STJ#1060, As We Sing of Hope and Joy

I am torn this morning between heartbreak and duty: my duty to myself to follow through on this spiritual practice and write something – anything – in response to the day’s singing; my heartbreak over yesterday’s death of one of my cats, a 15 year old black cat named Chelsea who was found dumpster diving and whose personality was full of spunk, love, and grit.

Asking me to write about a song that beautifully portrays our call to love the hell out of this world, on this day, feels too hard. I don’t have the wherewithal to answer the call of love today; I barely have the wherewithal to be here at all today.

I’ll leave you just with this: UU composer Elizabeth Alexander – who I first met 13 years ago at a UU Musicians Network conference (she was my roommate) is one of the most lovely people I know; her choral settings are gorgeous and complex but definitely worth it – as is this song. It’s not the easiest hymn to sing, but it’s not impossible with good song leading.

As we sing of hope and joy today,
Some know only anguish and despair.
How can we lift our voices in this way
while some have pain and misery to spare?

If a crumbling world we would renew,
We must sing no ordinary song,
Peals from a noisy gong will never do;
in every breath compassion must belong.

Let this song our greatest hopes contain:
Laughter of a well-fed child its tune,
Roofs over every heartbeat its refrain,
its harmony from peaceful cities hewn.

Sing of joy while hammering each nail.
Sing of hope while pulling every weed,
So shall we sing together and prevail;
May every Alleluia bear a seed.

In a different time, I would be talking about the metaphors and turns of phrase. Maybe someday.

Today, I just feel sad.

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