As Unitarian Universalists have been growing into deeper understanding of White Supremacy Culture, being interculturally respectful and competent, and learning how to avoid the pitfalls of cultural misappropriation, we are learning to learn and share the stories and contexts behind the songs we sing as part of our worship.
This is a work in progress. The hymnal Singing the Living Tradition had a companion book Between the Lines with some information about each hymn, but both volumes were before we had any sort of intercultural lens. We don’t have any “official” resources to help us in this important work.
There is no right way or answer, but an invitation to be in the struggle and the conversation of how to faithfully include music of other cultures in UU worship. One model is engaging with each hymn and its history as a spiritual practice. The Rev. Kimberley Debus has—with vulnerability—spent a over a year engaging with a hymn each day on her blog Far Fringe. I have referred to this blog as I ruminate about hymn choices and how to present them in their original context. I found it to be a fruitful spiritual practice.
Rev. Renee Ruchotzke, CER Congregational Life Staff