Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: A Chorus of Faiths: A Program That Builds Interfaith Youth Leaders

Faith In Action: Our Living Tradition

Activity time: 30 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Familiarize yourself with the sections of the hymnbook mentioned in the activity.
  • Copy the handout, if needed for all participants. These Unitarian Universalist Principles and Sources also appear, just before the first hymn, in editions of Singing the Living Tradition published in 1995 or later. (Earlier editions of Singing the Living Tradition do not include all the Sources.)
  • Arrange for the group to meet with the music director, minister, religious educator, or another lay or professional leader who selects readings or hymns for congregational worship. Give the guest a copy of this activity and invite them to use it to prepare for their time with the youth.
  • Optional: Learn about the original sources of the hymns and readings in Singing the Living Tradition from the book Between the Lines: Sources for Singing the Living Tradition, Jacqui James, ed. (Boston: Skinner House, 1998).

Description of Activity

Youth discover how our Unitarian Universalist hymns and readings reflect and reinforce religious pluralism.

Introduce the guest and invite them to join the group in the activity. Say, in your own words:

Gratitude for religious pluralism is one of the foundations of Unitarian Universalism and is mentioned specifically in our Bylaws.

(Read aloud the Principles from Singing the Living Tradition or Handout 1, Unitarian Universalist Principles and Sources.)

Our hymnbook has sections that honor the Sources of wisdom that enrich our Unitarian Universalist tradition. Our tradition is "living" because we believe in embracing new or different religious beliefs and practices that help us try to make the world a better place or ourselves better people.

Distribute hymnbooks and invite participants to take some time to explore the hymns that we use from the world's religions (Hymns 176 through 197), Jewish and Christian teachings (Hymns 198 through 285), Humanist teachings (Hymns 286 through 356), and other Sources.

Then, have participants explore the readings we use from the world's religions (Readings 595 through 614), Jewish and Christian teachings (Readings 615 through 644), Humanist teachings (Readings 645 through 671) and other Sources.

Offer these questions for discussion-and be sure to include the guest:

  • What are some examples of how the words in a reading or hymn reflect its religious Source?
  • What are some words in a reading or hymn you feel represent Unitarian Universalist beliefs and values?
  • Why do you think the editors of the hymnbook selected these particular hymns and readings?
  • How do these hymns and readings help tell the Unitarian Universalist story of religious pluralism?
  • What hymns or readings have you heard in our congregation during worship services or in religious education? Do you have favorites? Which particular hymns or readings do you find personally meaningful?
  • Do any of these hymns or readings stand out as possible pieces to share in an interfaith event? Invite the guest to suggest hymns or readings that might work in this situation. If the group finds any, mark them with a sticky flag in your own personal hymnbook or one you will be able to keep in the workshop space. You can also note the hymn and reading numbers on the calendar you have posted.

Ask the guest to share with the group when and why they might choose to use hymn/reading selections for worship. Invite participants to ask the guest any questions they might have.

Including All Participants

Gather large print and/or Braille hymnbooks for participants who might need them.