Replacing the songs of David Haas
This article originally appeared as a part of the MCUSA series on Voices Together.
MennoMedia released a statement on Tuesday: in response to credible accusations of sexual abuse and spiritual manipulation by the hymn writer and composer David Haas, the committee compiling Voices Together has removed his songs from consideration.
While these songs will not be included in the new hymnal available this fall, five songs by David Hass are in Sing the Journey (STJ) and Sing the Story (STS) and others are sung in Mennonite congregations. These include beloved songs “My Soul Is Filled with Joy,” “I Will Come to You in the Silence,” “Peace Before Us,” “Blest are They,” “We Are Called” and “Come and Be Light.”
Many communities are choosing not to sing these songs to prevent possible harm and to act in solidarity with survivors of abuse who are likely in their midst. Determining whether or how to continue singing these songs requires difficult community conversations with substantial leadership from survivors of abuse. Many communities will be best served by choosing not to sing these songs at this time.
We grieve the loss of these beloved songs, and at the same time we recognize that other songs occupy similar musical, affective, and theological territory. We know there are intangible aspects that cannot truly be replaced, but we offer the following lists to recommend alternatives that cover comparable theological themes in related musical styles. Links to recordings are provided for songs that are not in current Mennonite collections. Pending permissions, many of these songs will be included in Voices Together; we expect to release a full list of contents sometime in August.
“My Soul is Filled with Joy” has a text based on the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), and the tune is an Irish melody called WILD MOUNTAIN THYME.
- Musical settings of the Magnificat
- My Soul Proclaims with Wonder (Hymnal: A Worship Book [HWB] 181) by Carl Daw and J. Harold Moyer
- My Soul Cries Out (STS 124) by Rory Cooney
- WILD MOUNTAIN THYME arranged by other composers
- Spirit, Open My Heart (OneLicense #20093) by Ruth Duck and congregational setting by Daniel Charles Damon (here is a choral arrangement by Alfred Fedak)
“Peace Before Us” is based on a Navajo prayer that has resonances with the imagery of St. Patrick’s prayer.
- Themes of being surrounded by the love and peace of Christ
- Short songs accessible to children, some of which introduce a new meditative word to form additional verses.
- Your Love is Washing Over Me (not on OneLicense yet), by Jaylene Johnson
- He Came Down (STJ 31), Cameroon Traditional, arr. John Bell
- Don’t be afraid (STJ 105) by John Bell
- Songs with connections to Indigenous communities
“I Will Come To You In the Silence” draws on Isaiah 43 and a gentle folk musical sound to affirm a close personal relationship with God.
- Similar examples
- Nothing is lost on the breath of God (STS 121) by Colin Gibson
- Shepherd Me, O God (HWB 519) by Marty Haugen
- And I Will Raise You Up (HWB 596) by Michael Joncas
- O God, You Search Me (OneLicense #80099) by Bernadette Farrell
- God Lights A Lamp (not on OneLicense yet) by Katie Graber and Anneli Loepp Thiessen
- God Calls You Good (not on OneLicense yet, sheet music purchase available at link) by Paul Vasile
“Blest Are They” is a musical setting of the Beatitudes (found in Matthew 5:1-12 and Luke 6:20-26) in a style that is known as Catholic folk.
- Musical settings of the Beatitudes
- Blessed Are You (OneLicense #102130, you can hear this song in a video about halfway through this article) by Adam Tice and Benjamin Brody
- Blessed Are the Persecuted (HWB 230) Tonga traditional, adapt. Ester Bergen
“Come and be Light” and “We Are Called” are high energy songs that call us to work for justice.
- Calls to act for justice in a similar musical language
- The Lord Is My Light (STJ 97) by Lillian Bouknight
- God of Justice (CCLI #4447128) by Tim Hughes
- Beauty for Brokenness (STS 115) by Graham Kendrick
- Will You Come and Follow Me (STS 39) by John Bell and Graham Maule,
- Scottish traditional, arr. Lloyd Kauffman
- Longing for Light (STJ 54) by Bernadette Farrell
- God of the Bible (STJ 27) by Shirley Erena Murray and Tony E. Alonso
Additional composers who write in related musical styles:
- Lee Dengler
- Far above the noise of life (OneLicense #78685) text by Susan Naus Dengler
- The Water is Ready (OneLicense #G987221) text by Adam Tice
- Marty Haugen
- Sally Ann Morris