Cantai ao Senhor (O Sing to the Lord)

Scripture References

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

We celebrate with joy that Christ has come to rescue us from sin and evil through the work of his son, Jesus Christ. Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 35 identifies the church as “the fellowship of those who confess Jesus as Lord…the bride of Christ…”


Belgic Confession, Article 21 professes how Jesus Christ is a high priest forever and provided for the cleansing of our sins; Article 10 proclaims him as the “true eternal God, the Almighty, whom we invoke, worship and serve.” Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 1, Question and Answer 2 calls us to “live and die in the joy of this comfort” and “to thank God for such deliverance.”


Cantai ao Senhor (O Sing to the Lord)

Call to Worship

Clap your hands, all you peoples;
shout to God with loud songs of joy.
For the Lord , the Most High, is awesome,
a great king over all the earth.
God has gone up with a shout,
the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises;
sing praises to our King, sing praises.
—Psalm 47:1-2, 5-6, NRSV

Cantai ao Senhor (O Sing to the Lord)

Tune Information

e minor


Musical Suggestion

This infectious melody suggests both joyful celebration of what God has done, and a longing for God’s justice and shalom to be completed. Sing with a tempo of one beat per measure. The pulse must not stop between stanzas; it is a common practice to add three bars to the final printed measure to maintain the musical flow – and allow singers time to catch their breath. 

This hymn comes to us from Brazil as a Portuguese folk song, Cantai al Senhor. Its South American setting makes it a natural also in Spanish. If you have Spanish-speaking people in your congregation, they could help you learn the song in Spanish. Otherwise the English translation also is fine. If the song is new to your congregation, have a small group—perhaps a church school class—sing the first verse. Since the tune is repetitive and very lively and infectious, children will catch on to it quickly. This hymn is also a delight for families to sing around the dinner table, since even the very young can sing it. Use rhythm instruments whenever possible.
Robert A. Hobby arranged a wonderful setting of this hymn for the congregation to sing accompanied by organ, two trumpets, and percussion (MorningStar Music Publications MSM-20-712A). In our church we have used that setting with piano, two trumpets, tambourine, and claves. Parts are also included for drums and maracas. Adding more percussion with each verse adds to the excitement of the piece and creates diversity. A delightful addition to our hymnody!
(from Reformed Worship, Issue 51)
— Annetta Vander Lugt

Cantai ao Senhor (O Sing to the Lord)

Hymn Story/Background

This text celebrates the wondrous acts of God that calls forth exuberant praise from God’s people. Originally Portuguese, this joyful song has been translated into many languages. Because of the repetition, Anglo congregations should sing at least one stanza in Portuguese or Spanish. 
— Emily Brink

Author Information

A song of Brazilian origin, made available by Gerhard Cartford (b. Madagascar, 1923), was educated in the United States, and became an influential Lutheran church musician, writer, and professor of music and liturgics (Texas Lutheran College and Luther-Northwestern Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota). He also was a Fulbright scholar studying folk music and hymnody and lived for many years in South America. 

Composer Information

Joel Navarro (b. 1955) is a professor of music at Singapore Bible College. Until 2014 he taught at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, teaching conducting and directing campus choirs. As the recipient of numerous awards in performance and education in his native Philippines, he is widely known as a conductor, educator, clinician, lecturer, writer, singer, recording artist, composer, arranger, stage actor, record producer, and music consultant. An active performer of music from different eras and ethnic traditions, he takes an ardent interest in post modern music and the music traditions and liturgies of the world. 
Navarro earned a master of music degree in choral conducting from the University of the Philippines and a doctor of musical arts degree in conducting at Michigan State University. He is known internationally as the former music director and conductor of the Ateneo de Manila University Glee Club, which has amassed a string of top prizes during the past 20 years in choral competitions worldwide. He also was a member of the 12 member editorial team for Lift Up Your Hearts.
— Lift Up Your Hearts (http://www.liftupyourheartshymnal.org)

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