Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Signs of Our Faith: A Program about Being UU Every Day for Grades 2-3

Activity 3: Song - "Come, Come, Whoever You Are"

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Newsprint, markers, and tape
  • A copy of Singing the Living Tradition, the Unitarian Universalist hymnbook
  • Optional: Computer with Internet access or a music player

Preparation for Activity

  • Read the Description of Activity. Decide how much time you can give the unpacking of the song and assess how the dance component will work with this group of children, and plan accordingly.
  • Write the words to "Come, Come, Whoever You Are," Hymn 188 in Singing the Living Tradition, on newsprint, and post.
  • If you do not know "Come, Come, Whoever You Are," familiarize yourself with the tune. You can also listen to the song sung as a round by members of Bull Run (Virginia) Unitarian Universalists. Optional: Invite a skilled musical volunteer to help teach the song and/or help you incorporate movement into this activity. The Tapestry of Faith resource Making Music Live, by Nick Page, offers practical guidance to help you lead songs, with or without movement, in a Unitarian Universalist religious education setting.
  • Optional: If you have time, plan to teach the children to sing "Come, Come, Whoever You Are" as a round. See Alternate Activity 2, Leadership in Action - Leading a Round in Congregational Worship if you wish to extend the children's engagement with this song.

Description of Activity

Participants learn "Come, Come, Whoever You Are," Hymn 188 in Singing the Living Tradition, and identify ways the lyrics express Unitarian Universalist values related to welcoming.


  • When you entered the room today, what ritual did we exchange? [A greeting.]
  • Why do we greet people?
  • What are some ways we greet people? [Invite the children to demonstrate, by greeting each other and co-leaders.]
  • How do you feel when you enter a room and someone greets you? [Affirm that greeting people is one way to make them feel welcomed. When we welcome someone, they feel we want them to be with us, to be part of our group or community, to feel at home.]
  • Sometimes we greet someone when we first meet them, but maybe we can do more to make them feel welcomed. After a greeting, what more can we do to welcome someone? [Prompt: What might you do or say to make a visitor feel comfortable at your home? What could you do to make a new child at school or in your neighborhood feel like they belong? How do we welcome people here at the congregation?]

Invite the group to sit comfortably. Sing "Come, Come, Whoever You Are," Hymn 188 in Singing the Living Tradition softly, one time through. Ask if any children know the song. Invite those who do to sing it with you a second time. Tell the group that the words in this song were written by Rumi, a Sufi mystic who lived hundreds of years ago. The tune is by a UU minister, Reverend Lynn Ungar. Say:

Think of this song as an invitation asking people to come into this space. Does it sound inviting to you?

Talk through the words of the song, using the newsprint you have posted:

Come, come, whoever, you are. Say:

These words tell us who is welcome when we sing this song. Who is welcome? [Affirm that everyone is welcome.]

Wanderer, worshipper... Say:

These words say more about who we are going to welcome. It could be someone just wandering by. It could be someone who wants to join us in worshipping together, like we do at our congregation, It could even be someone who might only want to visit one time, or stay just a little while and then leave That person is welcome, too.

Lover of leaving. Say:

This part can be confusing. What do you think the author of these words meant? If someone loves to "leave" then is it important that they always have a place to return to? Is our congregation and faith that place? [Affirm "yes."]

Ours is no caravan of despair. Say:

Do you all know what a caravan is? A caravan is a procession of people, animals, or wagons or cars traveling together in a line. "Despair" is feeling sad or unsure of what to do. Our UU faith is not a caravan of despair, but a caravan of joy and love.

Come, yet again come. Say:

These words say we want people to come not just one time, but any time they want to join us. We will welcome them each time.

Tell the group that many UU groups like to sing this song together. Ask: Why do you think Unitarian Universalists like us think it is important to welcome people? Affirm that our first Principle says everyone has value and deserves to be treated with respect. When we act in a welcoming way to someone new, that is a sign that we respect that person, and we are living our first UU Principle.

Now lead the children to sing the song again, this time using their bodies to act out how the song welcomes others to feel like a part of our group. Say:

Let's sing the song again, as a real sign of welcoming. This time, let's use our bodies to show signs of welcoming, too.

Encourage children to use gestures that are signs of welcome, such as waving "hello" and using arms to motion someone closer.