Unitarian Hymnal Sing-along

In which Kathryn attempts to sing a different song everyday from the Unitarian Universalist hymnal, 'Singing the Living Tradition'. Earlier posts are based on songs from the Reader's Digest songbooks she found at yard sales as a child, including: 'Reader's Digest Treasury of Best Loved Songs', 'Reader's Digest Family Songbook', and 'Reader's Digest Family Songbook of Faith and Joy'. Bonus Folk song material from: 'Folk Song USA', by John and Alan Lomax.

17 September 2007

"That Old Time Religion/May Nothing Evil Pass This Door"

All of my four regular readers have noticed that it's been a mighty long time since I've written daily, or at all. I'm still singing, and still needing to write and to organize my thoughts, but nothing has happened here. While this is partially due to the waves of my life carrying me out to sea on a regular basis, I think I've mostly been avoiding my blog because I couldn't stand the music, and that songbook was just never going to end. It's appropriate that the last song, the song that had me stuck through multiple days, is 'That Old Time Religion'. I am all about the old time religion, or more accurately, that new religion that we like to think harkens to the way old, to the polytheistic, unafraid of sex, woman-friendly, earth-friendly religion going on previous to the current monotheistic trend. (We can argue this as a term, and as a trend, and as history, but in my personal Judeo-Christian inspired world, it's how I'm going to frame things.)

It's so hard not to love the music of my Catholic upbringing, especially when the church's very existence is what let music as we know it in the west first be recorded on parchment, and what initially inspired so much gorgeous harmony, polyphony, virtuosity and orchestral splendor. All that so that I can now sing folk songs and play my mandolin, reading little dots on paper and making sense of it. Ah! And that doesn't even touch the fact that I still know all the words to the Catholic hymns of my childhood (frankly horrifying the friends who don't), or that I still cry and cry when I hear 'Be Not Afraid'.

To inspire my forever-music hungry brain, while still keeping to a sacred genre, I will now be singing from the Unitarian Universalist hymnal, 'Singing the Living Tradition'. I'm going to include the words to these songs sometimes, since they may in general be less familiar. This first song's words are by Louis Untermeyer:

May nothing evil cross this door,
and may ill fortune never pry
about these windows; may the roar
and rain go by.

By faith made strong, the rafters will
withstand the battering of the storm.
This hearth, though all the world grow chill,
will keep you warm.

Peace shall walk softly through these rooms,
touching our lips with holy wine,
till every casual corner blooms
into a shrine.

With laughter drown the raucous shout,
and, though these sheltering walls are thin,
may they be strong to keep hate out
and hold love in.

I love this. These words, the peace they bring my heart. This is a perfect prayer to me: poetry set to music, poetry that speaks clearly of what is important and dear, set to music that gently holds the text.

Today in my voice lesson we talked about my own connection to physicality, and how that relates to singing. The more I understand the sensuality of anything, the more I feel it, the more I understand it. Years ago I did a movement workshop in which the presenter spoke of letting each cell in the body be like a garden, with the dancer as the gardener: what does this do to my movement, to my experience? What does it do to my singing, to my music, if I let it inhabit my body fully? If I let the vibrations affect every cell?

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At 3:14 PM, Blogger Kendrah & Corwynne said...

I still cry and cry when I hear "Be Not Afraid". And "On Eagle's Wings" I love those songs!



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