The information about the sources and the particular context of each song is a work in progress. These summaries, variously based on the observations of composers, writers, and/or authoritative interpreters of each song, are provided to assist in the presentation, teaching, and performance of this music. We welcome additional or corrective information to this resource, which may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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May Your Life Be As a Song
This is the refrain that comes from a Russian folk song. The entire song is available in SATB or SAA from Jim Scott Music. The verses are original and the whole song adds a gentle Latin/Bossa Nova beat that is good with rhythm section. The composer likes to end concerts with this song and include the audience in the refrain and in a round.
Meditation on Breathing
This is the chorus from an original solo piece, entitled When I Breathe In, which was written in 2001 following the tragedy of September 11, 2001. This chant has been sung all over the country at various Unitarian Universalist (UU) churches and at peace rallies and marches. It was heard on the Virginia Tech campus after the massacre there in 2007. The following is the text for the verses:
One long day of terror is etched upon my heart
When I reflect on the shock that I felt
As I cried and watched the world fall apart.
Making sense of evil is no small task
Some would say, “Let’s bomb ‘em to hell”
But before we do we should look at our own past.
At times I feel bewildered like I’m lost in a dream
I search for hope in the meaning of truth
As I close my eyes and I focus on peace.
Fear’s a heavy feeling; it can eat you alive
But it can’t run and it can’t hide
If you breathe these words, then you know you’ll survive.
When I’m feeling hopeless and out of control
I clear my mind as I think on a cure
And I center in as I make love my goal.
Is war really an answer? Can we find those to blame?
All we are saying is “Give Peace a Chance”
And I pray to God as I sing this refrain.
The complete song can be obtained from the composer at: SDJones88@hotmail.com.
Morning Has Come
This song was composed for and debuted at a morning worship service during the 2001 UUMN conference at the Mountain in Highlands, NC. As the story goes, it had been rainy and gray all week long, but when the time came to debut this song the sun came out and shone gloriously through the chapel windows. Ah, the power of music!
It is important that the accompanist pay close attention to the rhythm patterns in this piece. The accompaniment is essentially in 12/8 time, which means there is a constant triplet feel underneath the relatively straightforward vocal lines. Hand percussion is highly effective with this song, as is a full rhythm section. If you really want to blow the church walls out, and you have the resources available, an organist can play the chorale while a pianist plays the accompaniment (listen to recordings of the Paul Winter Consort for many fine examples of this combination). When using this song in my home church, I generally have a soloist sing the first verse a capella, with much feeling and rubato, then have the ensemble come in—at tempo—as the soloist reaches the word "home." This piece has been recorded on Jason Shelton's CD, The Fire of Commitment.
Mother I Feel You
This song was written on Spencer’s Butte, Eugene, Oregon in 1985. The composer writes, “I was sitting with my friend David, looking out over the vast view of the Willamette Valley, wondering about the ancient roots of the area, talking about the original native tribes who lived there before the white settlers came. We became quiet and sat in meditation for a long time. I was shifted out of meditation dramatically when I became aware that I was singing the song Mother I Feel You Under My Feet, Mother I Hear Your Heartbeat. I sang it for a long time and was very moved by the experience. We hiked down the mountain and shared it with friends. It immediately became a chant that many people resonated with and wanted to learn and has since traveled around the world and been interpreted in many forms and languages.
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Last updated on Monday, April 9, 2012.
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