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Song Information

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


I Know I Can

Written in the gospel style, and it is a collaborative effort between the composer, Jeannie Gagné, with lyricist, Rev. Dennis Hamilton, and arranger, Mark Freundt. It comes from hope, prayer, and a strong will. The melody came to Jeannie in about twenty minutes one evening, which she says happens rarely but when it does, she trusts it! They hope this hymn is as inspiring to sing as it was to write.

If Every Woman in the World

From Karen MacKay’s deep connection to the living tradition of West Virginia women’s music; a tradition that, in Karen’s hands and voice, continues to be the means for perpetuating the simple ancient wisdom of mountain women. In 1982, suffering harassment at work and unsure of her life’s direction, Karen spent a weekend with “Aunt Jenny” and received the wisdom that has guided her life and music ever since. “Just git out there and play yer banjer. Git out there and play yer music and give ‘em all you’ve got!” Two weeks later Karen had quit her job. A year later she had written and recorded the songs on her first album, “Annie Oakley Rides Again.”

The final song on that album was If Every Woman in the World. Karen’s strong belief in the power of women to influence global culture and bring peace to the world found a deep expression in this song, and women all over the world have responded by passing it on from woman to woman, country to country. It has been sung at the 1985 International Women’s Conference in Nairobi, as well as at retreats and gatherings throughout Canada and the United States. It was included on the CD, O Beautiful Gaia, recorded by Carolyn McDade and the women of three different bioregions in Canada and the United States. The song’s current form incorporates three new verses written especially for its inclusion in this Unitarian Universalist (UU) hymnal supplement. If Every Woman in the World portrays a powerful dream of planetary peace that begins inside the heart of each person who sings it. The most important thing to remember in singing this music is to heed the simple wisdom of “Aunt Jenny” Wilson, “Just git out there…and give ‘em all you’ve got!”

** Substantial portions of the material included here were taken from Karen MacKay’s article “A Matter of Tradition,” published in HOT WIRE, July 1985.

In My Quiet Sorrow

Written to honor “those things which are not expressed, kept within the silence of our hearts.” Each week during the Joys and Concerns portion of the UU Society’s worship service where Ms. Gagné is Music Director (Middleboro, MA), congregants come forward to light a candle and say a few words, or, often they choose to be silent. This song was written to acknowledge the concerns or sorrows in our hearts that sometimes go unexpressed—with a prayer for support, love, and guidance. We all have times in our lives that are challenging; sometimes we need to ask for help, but we don’t know quite how or when. Sometimes we pray. This hymn can also be sung as a solo with interpretation on the melody. The composer approaches the melody with interpretation after establishing it in the first verse. Her recording of In My Quiet Sorrow can be downloaded and is on her latest CD, Must Be Love, released Spring 2005. (See Jeannie Gagne's website for purchase information.)

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Last updated on Monday, April 9, 2012.

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