“Without music life would be a mistake.—Friedrich Nietzsch
“Qui bene cantat bis orat” (They who sing pray twice.)—St. Augustine
Music and singing are integral parts of our Unitarian Universalist (UU) worship services. Whether it's classical, rock, folk, or a cappella, music shifts the energy of worship and moves it into our bodies. Below are some ways to connect to Spirit, and to one another, through music.
- "There Is A Love" by Elizabeth Norton and Rebecca Parker
- "Love One Another" (PDF) by Jason Shelton
- "The Song In Your Heart" (PDF) by Jason Shelton
- "Right Here" (PDF) by Sam Turton
The Unitarian Universalist Musicians’ Network (UUMN) maintains the UUMN Index of Music for Themed Worship, a database of music compatible with dozens of specific worship themes, from “Gratitude” to “Grace,” “Transcendence” to “Transformation.”
Rev. Ian Riddell has compiled a list of children's recessionals for use in UU worship services.
Hymnals and Songbooks
The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) publishes the hymnal Singing the Living Tradition plus two hymnal supplements: Singing the Journey and the Spanish-Language Las Voces del Camino. We also publish the multigenerational songbook Come, Sing a Song With Me through our imprint Skinner House Books.
For background on these individual hymns and songs: the book Between the Lines provides information about Singing the Living Tradition, and the Singing the Journey website offers background for the songs in Singing the Journey.
Additionally, there are other songbooks and hymnals that are in use in many of our congregations, each with its own particular usefulness.
CDs of Hymns and Accompaniment
The First Unitarian Church in Oakland has recorded three CDs of music from our hymnals—Bring Many Names, Music in the Air, and Wake, Now My Senses—for congregations, and individuals, that want to listen to the music from the hymnals. Journey Songs is the new CD produced by the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville which contains fifteen hymns from Singing the Journey, and Jason Shelton's CD The Fire of Commitment also contains several songs found in Singing the Journey. The Orange Coast Unitarian Universalist Church (Costa Mesa, CA) created a CD with family-friendly music from Singing the Living Tradition, Singing the Journey, and May This Light Shine, called Family ValUUes. It is available in CD form from the Orange Coast UU Church, or via digital download from iTunes or Amazon.com.
Often people ask if there is a CD of just accompaniment and, to date, there is no comprehensive CD of all of the hymns in the two hymnals. MP3 files of some of the songs in Singing the Journey can be found at the Singing the Journey website, and some of our congregations have created CDs of accompaniment for the public domain hymns in Singing the Living Tradition.
The Abraham Lincoln Unitarian Universalist Church in Springfield, IL has recorded two CDs of piano accompaniment (including an introduction and all verses) to hymns from Singing the Living Tradition. One contains thirty "favorite" hymns, and the other is a collection of Christmas holiday hymns. Contact the Abraham Lincoln Unitarian Universalist Church for purchase information.
The Unitarian Universalist Musicians Network (UUMN) "nurtures, educates, and inspires UU music leaders to create dynamic and transformative music ministries" everywhere from our largest multi-staff congregations to our smallest lay-led fellowships.
Over the years the Unitarian Universalist Association's publication InterConnections has also published many articles having to do with music and music programs in congregations. For your convenience we have brought together in one place a compilation.
Insights and Instructions: a collection of essays and articles with information on everything from how to read the rhythms in the hymnal supplement, to how to be an effective songleader for your congregation, to ways to think about the ministry of the music director.
New Music: UU Composers
And if you want to explore new music by Unitarian Universalist composers, explore the UUMN Composers Database.