STJ#1043, Szekely Aldas

This might be my favorite song in Singing the Journey.

It’s not my favorite congregational hymn – in fact, I’ve yet to encounter a congregation that’s even tried it as a hymn. But every time I hear a duet or choir sing it – or every time I sing it with someone – I weep from its beauty and its truth.

Our piece is composed by friend and colleague Beth Norton, and is based on a Transylvanian folk song and saying. As the UUA Song Information page notes,

This setting of the blessing is a “partner song” with the text in Hungarian in one part and in English in the other part. It was composed for the choir of First Parish in Concord, MA on the occasion of their Musical Pilgrimage to Transylvania in the summer of 2002. The song is dedicated to Concord’s partner congregation in Székelykeresztúr and to the musical pilgrims of First Parish in Concord.

The gorgeous, haunting piece weaves languages and melodies together to connect us to faith and to the Mystery. Even if you don’t believe in God, per se, there is connection.

Hol hit ott szeretet;
hol szeretet ott béke.
Hol béke ott áldás;
hol áldás ott Isten.
Hol Isten ott szükség nin csen.

Where there is faith there is love;
where there is love there is peace.
Where there is peace there is blessing;
where there is blessing there is God.
Where there is God, there is no need.

What I especially love is the idea that love isn’t the end – we often rely on love first and last, helped along by our Universalist assertions that God Is Love, and thus ultimate. No, in this understanding, love leads to peace leads to blessing leads to God/Mystery. But it begins with faith. Simple, impossible faith.

Yeah, that’ll preach.

The image is of hand-made needlework, made by Unitarian artists from Szentlaszlo Unitarian Church in Transylvania. It was an offering for the 2016 Goods and Services auction at Unitarian Church North in Mequon, WI – blessings to the member who won!

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