STLT#226, People, Look East

Diving right in – I love this hymn. It’s joyful, it’s anticipatory, it’s hopeful. The lyrics, by 19th century poet Eleanor Farjeon (best known for Morning Has Broken) are a wonderful exploration of the whole earth waiting to welcome the Christ child. Sure, there are two verses missing – but the third verse is not …

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STLT#225, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

We have seen recast lyrics before, but this section of Advent and Christmas songs will include some of the most obvious-to-us recasts, for those who grew up listening to Christmas carols on the radio, in shopping malls, and on albums.  In some cases, the changes feel conciliatory, in order to make some folks more comfortable. …

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STLT#224, Let Christmas Come

Gentle Reader, You have had such patience with this practice, knowing that the hymns, sung in order starting in early October, would create some odd seasonal juxtapositions. You’ve read about summer songs in winter, evening songs in morning, happy songs in the darkness following the election. But nothing has prepared us for what’s coming now. Not …

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STLT#223, Rock of Ages, Let Our Song

I’ve been staring at the screen, sipping coffee, for longer than is entirely comfortable, feeling empty and lacking in anything of substance – humorous, snarky, historic, theological, musical, or otherwise – to say. Perhaps in a different time and place, when there is a sense of pride in who we are as a nation, this …

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STLT#222, Mi Y’Malel

It is apparently old folky week here at the Far Fringe… because I first learned this song a million years ago through a recording by The Weavers: Yessiree, that’s Pete Seeger on the banjo, along with the incredible Ronnie Gilbert on lead vocals, along with Lee Hays and Fred Hellerman. I remember once in my …

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STLT#221, Light One Candle

The first time I remember knowing who Peter, Paul, and Mary were, I was about 8 and was watching my brother and his first wife singing the song “Lemon Tree.” Karen had long chestnut brown hair and a rich alto voice, and while I often associated her with another alto brunette named Karen – Karen …

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STLT#219, O Hear, My People

I am writing this from the dining room of a sweet, retired director of religious education who has provided home hospitality for me and colleague Amy Zucker Morgenstern in Peterborough, New Hampshire, where yesterday we celebrated the installation of Diana McLean. It’s entirely possible the sweetness of this woman, and of Amy, and of Diana, and …

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STLT#218, Who Can Say

As with any art form, the more you engage it, the more familiar you become with those who practice it – sometimes it’s easy, like discerning Picassos in the Modern Museum of Art. Sometimes it’s less so, requiring some familiarity – signature dance moves mark the difference between Jerome Robbins and Bob Fosse, signature word …

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STLT#216, Hashiveinu

Day two of laryngitis – day two of not actually singing, and letting a series of YouTube videos sing for me (by and large, videos of high school choirs around the world singing this with a simplicity this middle aged voice long ago relinquished). It is again a simple piece with deep complexity, a prayer …

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STLT#215, Praise to the Living God

Confession time: I did not actually sing this today. It’s not that I don’t like this hymn – I do. It’s that I have laryngitis and I physically can’t. That laryngitis – and the accompanying cold – is also why this is so late: I turned off the alarm so I could sleep. The good news …

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STLT#214, Shabbat Shalom

The song is simple. The lyrics even more so. Yet it is hardly simple at all, is it? Shabbat shalom is the traditional greeting on the Sabbath, meaning essentially ‘may the peace of God be with you on this Sabbath day.’ The joyful three part song is a reminder that there is joy to be found …

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