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50 Years of UU Music

Due to copyright restrictions the video for this event had to be removed in 2012.

Presenters: Kellie Walker, John Herrick

Lift up your voice with others as we experience the incredible power of group singing. We go “Forward Through the Ages,” remember “Brief Our Days but Long for Singing,” relish “Morning Has Broken,” move to “Let it Be a Dance,” and “know we are blessed with love and amazing grace when our Heart is in a Holy Place.” Led by GA Music Coordinator Kellie Walker and GA Accompanist John Herrick, they are joined by many other wonderful Unitarian Universalist (UU) musicians including Sarah Dan Jones, Nick Page, Mary Neumann, and the GA House Band led by Dana Decker. With organ, piano, flute, band, and your help, we celebrate the gift of song that our denomination has given us over the past 50 years.


KELLIE WALKER: Good evening. I hope you all are ready to sing. Are you? Good. I'm counting on you helping me. Because after a week of singing, and especially the banner parade that went on kind of a long time, my voice has been really on the edge all week. So you all help me out tonight. This is all about you singing as well me.

But before we actually start, I want to take a moment to recognize our UU credentialing musicians that were recognized the other night. But they didn't get their pictures up on the screen. We're going to put them up now. I believe Annie Haymaker is the first one, and then John Herrick, Mary C. Neumann. Gail Carey is the first one. Thank you. Isn't that nice? I'm glad they got to have their face up there.

I actually would like to recognize all my UU musician network colleagues. Because they're all lifting me up behind the scenes. Sometimes out here helping me be. But I feel like they've got my back all week. So raise your hand or something all the UUMNers. Thank you for being here. Thank you. And while we're talking a little bit about mistakes, I've mentioned twice Thomas Michaelson. Except I said Mickelson. He wrote the words to the commissioned piece that Tom Benjamin wrote for opening ceremony Wednesday night, The Peace Journey. A note together? And I asked a couple people how to pronounce his name. But apparently they weren't people that really knew him. I'm pretty sure he might be listening at home this week. So I would like to make an official public correction that it is Thomas Michaelson who wrote that new hymn. And also wrote "Wake Now My Senses." And now we'll really get started.

Welcome to our 50th Anniversary Hymn Sing. They said 50 years in 50 minutes, because it sounds cute. But it really has to be under 50 minutes. So it's a little less. And it's a little daunting to do that much music. But we're going to lift up the power of our voices together and celebrate our heritage through singing. It's somewhat chronological, but many of these hymns are still widely sung today. And some were also sung before consolidation in 1961. So the order is just a bit arbitrary. And some of the most loved hymns at the time of merger, you've been singing sprinkled throughout this week. So we won't be repeating all of those. Because we want to celebrate as much of our rich history as we can get into a limited timeframe.

But what could be better to begin with than “Forward Through The Ages”? I believe that Jimmy Carter chose it for his inauguration as President. The tune though was by none other than Sir Arthur Sullivan of Gilbert and Sullivan fame. And Frederick Lucian Hosmer, a Unitarian minister born in 1840, wrote the words. It should sound absolutely amazing with your voices and that of the organ played by John Herrick. And I invite you to rise in body or spirit as we sing together two verses with a pause in between for a wonderful modulation.

#114 “Forward Through the Ages”

[Words by: Frederick Lucian Hosmer; Music by: Arthur Seymour Sullivan]


“Brief Our Days”

[Words: Kenneth L. Patton, 1956 & Music: Johann Schop, 1642; adapted and harmonized by J.S. Bach, 1716]

“Unto Thy Temple Lord We Come”

“Morning, So Fair to See”

#39 “Bring, O Morn, Thy Music”

[Words: William Channing Gannett; Music: John Bacchus Dykes]

KELLIE WALKER: Please be seated for our next few hymns. The tune of our next hymn, “Brief Our Days,” comes from Johann Schop in 1642 and was harmonized and adapted by no less than JS Bach. These wonderful words however, were written by Unitarian Universalist minister and poet Kenneth L. Patton in 1956. He was one of the compilers of hymns of the celebration of life which came out 1964 shortly after consolidation. Universalist and Unitarian musicians, though, had led the way in collaboration for many years beginning with hymns of the spirit in 1937, widely considered to be one of the finest hymnals of the last century and one of the first to include nontheist hymns.

Our sensitivity and use of language has continued to evolve, however, and “Brief Our Days” was not included in singing the living tradition. You may honor the history by singing men in the second verse or honor our inclusivity by singing all. This hymn will begin a medley of several hymns, with somewhat traditional words that were especially popular in the 1960s. Unfortunately, time does not allow for more than a verse or two of “Unto Thy Temple Lord We Come”, “Morning So Fair To See”, and “Bring, O Morn, Thy Music.” Let us begin with the wonderful lines, Brief our days but long for singing, when to sing is made our call.


KELLIE WALKER: Thanks John. That was great. 50 Next we will sing a lovely evening hymn that we don't often have the chance to sing in a typical Sunday morning service. The words of “Now On Land and Sea Descending” are by Unitarian minister Samuel Longfellow, younger brother of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Samuel Longfellow wrote some fifty hymns and while at Harvard Divinity School in 1846 he and classmate Samuel Johnson edited what was quite well-known at the time, Book of Hymns for Public and Private Devotion. The melody is of Russian origin the jubilate refrain—and notice it was yubilate, not jubilate—means rejoice. It was not found in earlier hymnals. Apparently our language has also evolved to be more open to including Latin. Mary Newman and Sarah Dan Jones are joining me on flute. Great.

SARAH DAN JONES: Yes, we are.

KELLIE WALKER: Excellent, you never know. I can't remember if I was going to have you stand on this, no not yet. Just sit in a standing-like position if you want to have good support.

#47 “Now on Land and Sea Descending”

[Words: Samuel Longfellow; Music: Russian melody, arr. by JA Stevenson]


KELLIE WALKER: I think my Methodist upbringing came in a little bit there when I said Jubilate Deo.

#311 “Let It Be a Dance”

[Words and Music by: Ric Masten; arr. By Betty A Wylder]

BEVERLY MCCORMICK: Our gray hymnal, Singing the Journey, was published in 1993 and was a big shift in the use of more inclusive language as well as more diverse musical styles. While some mourned the loss of tradition, even poetic language that wasn't always inclusive, as we gathered, many were thrilled to have lyrics that they could embrace as their own. One of the newer songs was “Let It Be a Dance,” written by Unitarian Universalist minister at large, Ric Maston. Ric died in 2008, but his poetry and his dance live on through this wonderful song. Knowing that there are many ways to dance, from gently waving a finger, to swaying in a seat, to moving around the room. I invite you those of you who wish to rise in body and in spirit and let it be a dance.


KELLIE WALKER: And that was John McClennan on the clarinet. And this is my good friend Beverly McCormick from my home church in Chandler, Arizona.

#348 “Guide My Feet”

[Words: Traditional; Music: Spiritual from the collection of Willis Laurence James; Harmony: Wendell Whalum]

BEVERLY MCCORMICK: And this is Mama. Well you've already managed to seat yourselves. Singing the living tradition contains a number of African-American spirituals. Whose power and beauty have greatly enriched our worship experience. “Guide My Feet” is one of those songs passed down from person to person by those who struggled and suffered greatly. And created songs of incredible strength, born of that struggle. Quite likely, the song carried a hidden message of escape. And certainly, we can all use it as guidance as our metaphor in our race to create a better world.

We honor those people and remember. And honor the many people around the world and the ones here tonight who continue the struggle for justice and freedom. Let's sing in a capella, in the true spirit of the people, my people, who first sang the song. Their voices being the only instruments they had. And many times, their bodies providing the rhythm.


#1047 STJ “Nada Te Turbe”

[Words: Santa Teresa de Jesús; Music: Jacques Berthier]

KELLIE WALKER: That was awesome. Really awesome. We're going to remain seated for the next couple of songs. So if you haven't sat down. Oh and I guess we haven't stood up yet. The music coming next to help us be quiet and to find that focus more inwardly. For a few moments. Our teal hymnal, Singing the Journey, came out in 2005. And some of these people right here with me helped put it together. This collection reflects diversity in theology, cultural expression, and musical styles. These hymns touch the heart, as well as the mind.

The song “Nada Te Turbe” comes from the Taize community in France. Founded in 1940 by Roger Schutz, this ecumenical monastery became a center for refugees from World War II who were of different religions and from all over the world. Known today as a retreat center especially for young people wanting to pray and work for peace, they have developed their own unique style of some prayer using chant. And short chant-like songs that are often sung simultaneously in different languages. We will sing alternating Spanish and English. But feel free to sing them all at the same time as well in true Taize style. Building the song up, and then after time, we'll let it die down. If you feel moved to improvise around the melody as we build it up, please do so and we'll remain seated. Porticia Jimenez will first read the text in Spanish. And we're repeat it after her.

PATRICIA JIMENEZ: Nada te turbe. Nada te espante. Quien a Dios tiene Nada le falta. Nada te turbe. Nada te espante. Solo Dios basta.


#31 Las Voces “Fuente de Amor”

[Words (English) and Music: Carolyn McDade; Spanish Translation: Ervin Barrios; Harmony: Grace Lewis-McLarren]

KELLIE WALKER: Las Voces Del Camino, our most recent hymnal, is a wonderful new resource for our congregations in helping to bring the Spanish language into our worship services. One of our most beloved hymns, “Spirit of Life,” now has a beautiful Spanish translation in this book. As with many song translations, this one is not literal, but reflects the intent of the original words and works with the flow and spirit of the music.

We have a wonderful young singer, Rachel Kulik with us here tonight from my home church, Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Chandler, Arizona. She will sing it as a solo first. And we're only doing the Spanish. She'll sing it through once and then I invite any of you who would like to sing it again with her in Spanish. But first, I've asked Patricia again, to read the Spanish. She's going to read the entire beautiful text. We won't repeat it after her. I want to hear the beauty of poetry.

PATRICIA JIMENEZ: Fuente de Amor. Ven hacia mi. Y al corazon, cantale. Tu compassion. Sopla al volar. Sube en lar mar. Hasta moldear. La justicia. De la vida. Arraigame. Liberame. Fuente de Amor Ven a mi. Ven a mi?.



#347 “Gather the Spirit”

[Words & Music: Jim Scott, © Jim Scott; Used by permission.]

KELLIE WALKER: Isn't she great? I put her in the front row in my choir. And you can see why. Our last three songs this evening are composed by three different Unitarian Universalist musicians. Who have had a tremendously positive impact on the music being made in our congregations in the last decade or more. And they have especially inspired a renewal of congregational singing. Unitarian Universalist singer and composer, Jim Scott, wrote the powerful and embracing “Gather The Spirit.” I invite you to rise in body or in spirit as we sing together. We'll just be doing two versus I'm afraid. “Gather the Spirit.”


KELLIE WALKER: If you'd like to, I'd have you keep standing. You've seen her up here for a while, but I haven't introduced yet. Because I've been waiting. So that we can introduce her on a wonderful song that she wrote. This is Unitarian Universalist singer and composer, Jeannie Gagne. She was the choir director at GA in 2005.

JEANNIE GAGNE: With Jason Shelton, who is sitting in the pit today. We co-directed.

KELLIE WALKER: In 2005. And I'm so glad she's here to lead her own song, “I Know I Can.” She co-wrote the words with UU minister Denis Hamilton. And the gospel arrangement is written by UU musician Mark Freundt, who is over there in the keyboards. He's been with us here all week in the GA band. Please help me welcome Jeannie to lead her song.

#1015 STJ “I Know I Can”

[Words: Dennis Hamilton; Music: Jeannie Gagné, arr. Mark Freundt]

JEANNIE GAGNE: I'd like to tell you before we sing this song. One, a little bit about the story about how this came to be. And two, how I want y'all to sing.

First, I'll tell you the story. We wanted to have, when we were putting this hymnal together, we wanted to have a really gospel hymn in the tradition of Unitarian Universalism. I went home and I was inspired by all of the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hymns that we were listening to over those two years. And the song just came forth. And I wrote a verse. And I brought it back to the committee. And Dennis said, let me work on those words. And actually by email—gotta love modern technology—that went to, we fondly call him Freundt. And Mark Freundt came up with the arrangement, because the man can play the piano. And that is how this hymn was born.

So I invite you to use your earthy voice when you sing this song. What does that mean? Everyone, I'm going to do this a little off the mic. Gimme a huh! That's the earthly voice. Comes from deep, deep, deep down here. I also invite you to sing the notes that you are called to sing. Rhythm is the number one thing not to make up. OK? That we got to be tight with the rhythm section. There's one thing I want you to do, which will really make this much more authentically gospel. When we say, no troubles wait at ev—really go, wait at. OK? Here we go. One. It's all right to clap. That's a good—Here we go.


#1008 STJ “When Our Heart Is in a Holy Place”

[Words & Music: Joyce Poley, © Songstyle Music; Keyboard arr: Lorne Kellett; Used by permission.]

KELLIE WALKER: We close with a wonderful song written by one of my favorite contemporary Unitarian Universalist songwriters and song leaders, Joyce Poley from Vancouver, British Columbia. To paraphrase her words, all this week we have been telling our stories from deep inside. And at least trying to listen with a loving mind. And when we hear our voices in each other's words, then our heart is in a holy place. Please join me in our last song together.


KELLIE WALKER: Truly, your singing tonight has helped to create a holy place. Thank you for this gift. And may this beautiful music stay in your heart and inspire you in the weeks and months to come, as we all journey back home tomorrow, or Monday, or whenever. And continue the work of making this world a better place. In the words we sang earlier tonight, brief our days, but long for singing when to sing is made our call. Goodnight. Thank You.

50 Years of UU Music is General Assembly 2011 event number 4021.

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