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Agneau de Dieu: Singing the Church Together

by Rev. Debra Tyree

Women sing while a man plays a drum during this impromptu performance.
Singing Methodists: A mosquito net distribution event is cause for musical celebration in Cote d'Ivoire.
Image by: Michelle Scott
Source: UMCOR

I was sitting on a bus in Abidjan, Côte d`Ivoire, with a group of leaders of church music from the Côte d`Ivoire Annual Conference. Surrounded by the sound of their singing, the singers moved easily from classic hymns of the faith to songs from their own communities. I remember thinking, "You can no more ask an Ivorian not to sing than you can ask them not to breathe." Singing is core to the faith community in the Côte d`Ivoire Annual Conference.

Their bishop, Bishop Benjamin Boni, strongly encourages the churches in the annual conference to use music as a way to share their faith and bring others to Christ. The incredible harmonies and beautiful choral-sound of the Ivorian congregational singing proclaims to everyone in their community that they are "Singing Methodists."

The song, "Agneau de Dieu" ("Lamb of God") is filled with lush harmonies and can easily be sung after just one hearing. You will want to explore the option of singing it unaccompanied as well as supported by instrumental accompaniment. Abraham Arpellet based the text on a liturgical text, with his own additional lyrics. He is a talented musician who serves as director of music in a local church and as mentor to many of the musicians in the Côte d`Ivoire Annual Conference.

Download the PDF of the music: Portable Document Format Agneau de Dieu (PDF, 99 KB)

As in many places in the world, music is shared and taught in Côte d'Ivoire using sol-fa singing. The musicians in Côte d`Ivoire often share their music by writing the choral parts in solfége and giving copies to other music directors. Global Praise has transcribed this song and has provided a version in solfége as well as music notation. Share the sol-fa version with your music teams when introducing the song to them. You will find many references to solfége singing techniques on the Internet.

Download the PDF of the music with solfége: Portable Document Format Agneau de Dieu (PDF, 84 KB)

Introduce this to your congregation by asking them to listen to you (or the choir) as the melody line is sung. Do this simply, unaccompanied, or doubled by a light clear flute sound on a keyboard, violin, flute, or other C instrument. Use your hand to draw the shape of the melody in the air (the rise and fall of the pitches) to reinforce the learning of the song. Invite the congregation to sing it with you. You will want to draw the shape of the melody as they sing this with you to help insecure singers.

Teach your Praise Team/Choir the four-part harmony and consider singing this unaccompanied, as well as accompanied, depending on use in worship. As the singers hold the dotted half note at the end of each two-measure phrase, encourage them to keep the sound vibrant, leading them in a slight crescendo into the next phrase. This is also a wonderful song for children to sing.

Download the video from our media server: Agneau de Dieu Video

The short, chorus-like nature of the song allows it to be used in a variety of worship settings and worship styles. You may:

  • Sing stanza one as a call to prayer, confession, or communion.
  • Sing stanza two as a response to the prayer or benediction.
  • Sing the entire song during the distribution of the elements for communion.
  • Sing stanza three as the response to prayer, as sung antiphon between intercessions, or any time you need an "alleluia" or "amen" within the service.

This song lends itself to unaccompanied singing. Consider dropping the accompaniment on stanza two when singing the entire song. Your congregation will want to try to sing it a capella once they are comfortable singing the melody. Do consider teaching them the choral parts!

In contemporary praise settings, introduce the song with acoustic guitar, light percussion, soft bass, and a "pad" on the keyboard. Stanza two could be the breakdown stanza with the band coming back in at the end of the stanza, playing a turnaround, and building into the third stanza. Consider adding a tag after the third stanza.

Learn more about the church in Côte d`Ivoire: Côte d'Ivoire: Walking in Faith

Support the ministry of the Advance in Côte D'Ivoire:

Debi Tyree is the business manager of Global Praise: Singing the CHURCH Together!
See Also...
Topic: GBGM programs Music Focus on Leadership Development
Geographic Region: Cote d´Ivoire
Source: GBGM Mission News

Date posted: Mar 16, 2010