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Music in Unitarian Universalist Congregations

Joy, sorrow, tears, lamentation, laughter—to all these music gives voice, but in such a way that we are transported from the world of unrest to a world of peace, and see reality in a new way.
—Albert Schweitzer, (1875-1965) famed humanitarian, Lutheran, and honorary Unitarian

Music is an important part of our Sunday services. It can speak to the soul deeply and powerfully, creating a time of beauty and reflection.

Our diverse congregations each have their own musical styles and traditions. Some favor classical, others jazz; some draw from the Christian sacred music tradition, some from world music; some favor folk and guitar, and others have their own rock band. Some bring in all these styles with the regular participation of members of the congregation and professional musicians.

Most of our congregations frame the worship service with an instrumental prelude and postlude. Two to three hymns, drawn from Singing the Living Tradition and Singing the Journey, involve the congregation in singing. Choirs or soloists often perform an anthem (a piece with lyrics that complement the service’s theme) and an offertory (a piece performed while the congregation offers donations). Instrumental interludes can also accompany times of reflection or prayer.

Joining a choir can be a fun and meaningful way for adults, youth, and children to get involved in the life of a congregation. Many of our congregations’ choirs accept new members all year round.

Our congregations’ Children’s programs frequently include songs that complement their religious education. The Unitarian Universalist (UU) songbook Come Sing a Song With Me is often used with kids.

Many of our congregations host public concerts featuring a wide range of genres. A small but vibrant group of our congregations, especially in New England, are home to “coffeehouses” that feature up-and-coming singer-songwriters. The UU congregation in Cambridge, MA, hosts the oldest coffeehouse, the Nameless, founded in 1966.


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This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Tuesday, November 25, 2014.

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