Listen, God Is Calling

Scripture References

Further Reflections on Scripture References

Deep calls to deep. For those who have ears to hear; this is God’s heart: forgiveness, salvation, remembering the forgotten, faithful living by the Word. Each returning “listen” and refrain encourages us to be alert to that persistent “still, small voice” of the Spirit.

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

This song emphasizes our need to listen well, and includes a call to ourselves and others to receive it as God’s truth. Such prayers and exhortations implement the convictions of Belgic Confession, Article 24 and Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 32: “The Bible is the Word of God, the record and tool of his redeeming work. It is the Word of truth, breath of God, fully reliable in leading us to know God and to walk with Jesus Christ in new life.”


Listen, God Is Calling

Additional Prayers

A Prayer Affirming God’s Call
Faithful God, always you are calling. You call us back from dangerous schemes. You call us out from hopeless labyrinths. You call us forth to speak good news. Always you are calling. Always you are calling because it is never too late for us to listen, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
— Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.

Listen, God Is Calling

Tune Information

G Major
Meter refrain


Musical Suggestion

Consider the following suggestion for use with children:
  • After teaching this song, allow a child volunteer to be the leader. If you have multiple volunteers, assign a different child to lead each verse, and another to lead the Refrain.
— Diane Dykgraaf

Like many African songs, the simple melody and harmonic structure of “Listen, God is Calling” make it easy to learn and sing. Allow it to flow freely at a relaxed pace. There may be some tendency to fight the slowness of the quarter and half notes. Give them full due. The stanzas are a bit more urgent, so increase the tempo slightly. Feel each bar in one. Accompany very lightly, if at all, only as needed to support the voices. Add gentle percussion if possible. Use one cantor throughout; or use three different voices for each of the stanzas – seated within the congregation, standing only when their part is to be sung. 

Listen, God Is Calling

Author Information

Howard Olson (1922-2010), longtime missionary/teacher in African, compiled a number of African songs in Set Free (Augsburg Fortress, 1993). Many were folk tunes to which Christian Swahili texts were later added. He wrote in the introduction: “In their original form these tunes we’e sung with uninhibited improvisation. Consequently the form in which these songs appear in this book represents only one of several possibilities.” The tune name of “Listen, God Is Calling” comes from the original Swahili text. 

Composer Information

Michael Hawn (b. 1948), Professor of Sacred Music and Director, Master of Sacred Music Program at Perkins School of Theology, SMU, joined the faculty in the fall of 1992. Prior to this he was a professor of church music at two Baptist seminaries for a total of fifteen years. In addition to teaching, he has served churches in Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina and Texas as minister of music. Hawn holds the Doctor of Musical Arts and the Master of Church Music degrees from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky, and the Bachelor of Music Education degree from Wheaton College, Illinois. Additional study includes Florida State University (Orff Certification), Oberlin College Baroque Performance Institute, and Aston Magna Baroque Performance Institute. A countertenor, Hawn has studied with Russell Oberlin and Ren Jacobs. He is a life member of Choristers Guild, having served as president of the board of directors (1990-1992, 2001-2003) and interim executive director (2002-2003), and the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada.
Hawn is a frequent contributor to church music periodicals in the areas of church music education and hymnology, having published over 200 articles. Edited books include For the Living of These Days: Resources for Enriching Worship (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Pub., Inc., 1995) and a three-year children's choir resource, Stepping Stones: An Ecumenical Children's Choir Curriculum (Garland, TX: Choristers Guild, 1995, 1996, 1997). Beginning in September of 2004, he has written a weekly column for The United Methodist Reporter entitled "History of Hymns" and contributes a feature on a global (non-Western) hymn in the bi-monthly journal Worship Arts. He is a well-known clinician throughout the United States in the areas of children's choirs and worship. Hawn also founded and served as chair of the board of directors for the Children's Chorus of Greater Dallas (1996-1998).
Hawn is also a student of global music and worship, having received a fellowship from The Association of Theological Schools in 1989 for study in Nigeria and Kenya. He also taught and studied church music in Cuba, Haiti, Mexico, and Nicaragua. During the summer of 1996, he was given a grant from Southern Methodist University for the purpose of studying Asian Christian worship and song, a trip that took him to Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand, and Hong Kong. He received a sabbatical grant from the Louisville Institute in 1998. This research in Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Japan and Korea led to the publication of a global collection Halle Halle: We Sing the World Round (Choristers Guild, 1999) and Gather into One: Praying and Singing Globally (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2003). A grant from the Calvin Institute for Christian Worship (2000) provided the background for the text One Bread, One Body: Exploring Cultural Diversity in Worship (The Alban Institute, 2003).
In February 2006, Hawn served as the music director of the IX Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Porto Alegre, Brazil. He has recently published four articles on Australian congregational song in The Hymn: A Journal of Congregational Song and has contributed 18 articles on sub-Saharan African hymnody to the Cambridge Dictionary of Hymnology (2008). His edited volumn, New Songs of Celebration Render (GIA Publications, Inc., 2013), explores the theological and musical developments in congregational song in North America since the Second Vatican Council.
— Choristers Guild (http://www.choristersguild.org/composers)

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