At the recent Mennonite Church USA (MCUSA) convention in Kansas City, delegates sang a song, Vision: Healing and Hope, that Patty Shelly wrote, using the words of the vision statement. “God calls us to followers of Jesus Christ and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to grow as communities of grace, joy and peace, so that God’s healing and hope flow through us to the world.” I just typed that by memory! I couldn’t do that before the convention, but the melody of the song has fixed the words in my head. I talked to Patty and she said she wrote the song so that she could remember the words of the vision.

The song is an effective mnemonic device; after singing it just a few times, I had the words memorized. The song has a simple, but catchy melody. (The first phrase made me think of the start of Piano Man by Billy Joel [especially if you play it with a descending bass line], but others think of Moonshadow, by Cat Stevens!)

Patty has graciously given the song for use in Mennonite Church USA congregations. A downloadable pdf of the melody line and lyrics is posted on the MCUSA website, http://mennoniteusa.org/resource/vision-healing-and-hope-song/ . The file just has the melody line, but the chords are easy to figure out. The song also works well a cappella, and even kids could learn it. It’s easy to teach to a congregation — I’d suggest a song leader line it out (sing a phrase and have the congregation repeat it). I’ve made it a goal to teach it to our congregation, and we’ll be singing it for a few weeks in a row, and then every so often so people know it (and learn the words of the vision). I think it is a great song to have in the congregation’s canon – for example, singing it at the start of church committee meetings could be an effective way to focus the group.

The power of music as a mnemonic device (mennomonic device for us!) is part of the reason our hymns and songs are important. When we want to cry out to God, express pain or praise, words come to us through the music when our brains can’t think of them. Some people, after brain injuries, dementia, or strokes, can’t speak, but can sing words.

We can learn some Anabaptist theology from our namesake, Menno Simons, thanks to #407, We are people of God’s peace, in our Hymnal: A Worship Book. What words are important for your children and congregation to know to support their faith journey? Are there songs that can help them remember them? If not, pull a Patty Shelly and write one!

–Susan Graber, Lafayette, CO