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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Hymns for homes

Habitat builds a songbook

Music — whether writing, performing or listening to it— offers a wonderful way to mark any important occasion. It has always played a vital role in Habitat for Humanity International, the faith-based nondenominational organization that builds low-cost homes for people in need. Workers often start off a day at a construction site with devotions and a hymn or appropriate song. They sing while they build. And there is singing at each house dedication.

Habitat celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2001 by publishing House of Harmony: The Habitat for Humanity Songbook, financed by a grant from Aid Association for Lutherans. Chuck Barnum, a member of First English Lutheran Church, Appleton, Wis., was instrumental in the songbook's production. A member of the music selection group, he coordinated the gathering, processing and publishing phases, and he contributed a topical index— all as a volunteer. Barnum and his wife, Donna, also are longtime volunteers for Habitat.

A broad selection of music related in various ways to building and to the values informing Habitat's mission is included. Some selections are traditional hymns and a few hymn adaptations with new words, but most are original compositions with titles such as "We Bless the Windows of this House," "When Hands Are Working" and "Build on Faith." All styles are represented— from traditional to contemporary-popular.

The songbook would make a wonderful addition to the music resources of any congregation. Its contents are appropriate for many occasions. And, of course, all proceeds go to Habitat's ongoing commitment to "eliminating poverty housing and homelessness from the face of the Earth." To order ($6 a copy), call Habitat at (800) 422-5914.


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