“Open Hearts” – The Methodist Song, Part 1

No matter who you are.
No matter where you’ve been.
I know you’ve come so far.
Welcome home again.
Let’s get together, tell the world that we believe in…

Open hearts, open minds, open doors to all the people.
Every day, in every way, let us live this love.

I’ve been singing versions of this little repeat-after-me song with Methodist congregations since circa 2010, but only recently did I feel like the lyrics were finally finished.  It is a song of welcome, and when I was a worship leader I would put it on the schedule several times each year, at times when we knew to expect a lot of newcomers — first Sunday of the school year (usually just after Labor Day), first Sunday of Advent, first Sunday after Christmas, start of Lent, just after Easter (or even on Easter).  Folks who’ve worked in churches know when to expect the visitor-filled crowds.

If you sit or stand out there in the congregation, you don’t see the same things that a worship leader sees.  You see the folks up front (like the worship leader, the pastor, the choir).  We see you — whether you’re singing, whether you’re smiling, nodding your head, checking your iPhone, falling asleep.  For some reason, just about mid-second verse, every time we sang this song I’d see the same thing:  a visitor singing, smiling back at me, often choking back a few tears.  Why was it so emotional for them?

To ALL around the world
To neighbors everywhere
We sing with one loud voice
“You are welcome here!”
Let’s get together, tell the world that we believe in…

Open hearts, open minds, open doors to all the people.
Every day, in every way, let us live this love.

I didn’t schedule the song because I wanted to manipulate emotions.  (I really don’t like that kind of approach to worship planning.)  I did it because it was evident that people heard it, especially visitors.  They heard the sincere expression of welcome.  They felt it.  Sometimes I had the sense (and sometimes people told me) that it was just the message they needed to hear.

In every life the Gentle Spirit.
In EVERY life the Spark of God.
Calling us to life TOGETHER.
Calling us to OPEN HEARTS.

What had happened in their lives that caused these words to hit home?  Had they not felt welcome sometime in their past, somewhere else in the lives?  Maybe they doubted whether the Gentle Spirit was truly active in their own lives.  Maybe their community (or church!) had somehow excluded them.  Maybe it had simply been a long time since they’d been in a church, and they had feared how they’d be received. Maybe, probably, like so many of us, they had stopped expecting their neighbors truly to aspire to live lives that embrace this value of welcome and openness.  Because I had the privilege of getting to know so many of those one-time visitors (as they came to be regular and valued members of our gatherings), I learned their stories.  Every time it was a reminder that we all need to be part of a community in which every one cares about every other.  No matter who they are, no matter where they’ve been.

So I offer “Open Hearts” to Methodists (and all Christians) everywhere. I hope many of you will sing it.  It’s based on our United Methodist slogan: “Open hearts, open minds, open doors.”  Part of me wants to admonish you not to sing it unless you mean it, unless you can really say “no matter who you are” and “with all your faults and fears,” “you are welcome here.”  But I know that’s too much to ask — after all, we ALL find it difficult sometimes to live up to Christ’s example of loving acceptance.  So I just say: “Sing it anyway!”  Maybe it will remind us of the model we are hoping to follow.  Maybe it will teach us to pay attention to those in our gatherings who need our embrace.  May our hearts will grow until they become open, as Christ’s was open.  And in the meantime, maybe all those visitors who walk through our open doors will know that we believe, sincerely, in welcome, even if we haven’t fully figured out what that means yet.

With all your hopes and dreams.
With all your faults and fears.
Like EVERY child of God,
YOU are welcome here.
Let’s get together, SHOW the world that we believe in…

Open hearts, open minds, open doors to all the people.
Every day, in every way, let us live this love.

Let’s open our hearts, minds and doors.  To every neighbor everywhere.  No matter who they are.  And “every day, in every way, let us live this love.”

-T

***

[A downloadable hi-def pdf is available below these jpegs…]

Open Hearts (Harris 2017), page 1 of 2

 

Open Hearts (Harris 2017), page 2 of 2

Click here to download a hi-def pdf:  Open Hearts (Harris, 2017)(C Major)(Update July 7, 2017) Enjoy!

[NOTE:  This is post #1 of 2 posts about “Open Hearts.”  Click here for post #2 about Open Hearts, which includes an audio recording.]

– T

2 Comments


  1. I love this! I would definitely use this in worship! Do you have piano accompaniment available?

    Brad

    Reply

    1. Thanks, Brad! I don’t have a piano score yet, but if I put one together I’ll post it to the site. Hoping to post a recording sometime soon. -T

      Reply

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