Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: What We Choose: An Adult Program on Ethics for Unitarian Universalists

Alternate Activity 1: The Music of Justice Making

Part of What We Choose

Activity time: 30 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Copies of Singing the Living Tradition, the Unitarian Universalist hymnbook, for all participants
  • Optional: Copies of Singing the Journey, the Unitarian Universalist hymnbook supplement, for all participants
  • Optional: Recordings of peacemaking or protest music, and a music player. You might invite participants to bring recordings to share
  • Optional: Keyboard or other instrument for accompaniment

Preparation for Activity

  • Familiarize yourself with these hymns and choose two or three to highlight: In Singing the Living Tradition, Hymn 168, "One More Step;" Hymn 169, "We Shall Overcome;" and Hymn 348, "Guide My Feet." In Singing the Journey, Hymn 1014, "Standing on the Side of Love;" Hymn 1018, "Come and Go with Me;" and Hymn 1030, "Siyahamba."
  • Optional: Arrange for an accompanist or song leader.
  • Optional: Set up equipment to play recorded music.

Description of Activity


Music and justice-making often go hand in hand. Have you been a part of protests, sit-ins, marches, or any other activity related to justice where music and singing had a part?

Invite participants to share names of songs that come to mind when recalling those events. Invite reflections, comments, and observations on the use of music in social justice resistance or witness activities. Ask: "How is music a tool for cultivating personal virtue?"

Invite participants to closely examine the lyrics of the hymns you have selected. Ask:

  • Under what circumstances have you sung these hymns?
  • What virtues do the lyrics promote?

Lead the group to sing the hymns. Afterward, ask:

  • What feelings emerge as you sing the hymns?
  • How can singing cultivate virtuous character?

If participants have brought recorded music to share, invite them to do so and reflect on the virtues promoted by the music.

If there is time, lead a discussion, asking:

  • Why do so many of our social justice songs have roots in communities of color?
  • What impact does this have on our use of these songs?
  • How do roots in communities of color affect how we, as a multicultural group, interact with and connect to these songs?