STJ#1069, Ancient Mother

Sometimes the universe likes to prepare you in advance for something you will need. In some cases, it’s the impulse buy that comes in handy later that month, or a song you hear that the choir director asks you to sing a week later, or in my case, it’s a conversation on Wednesday that leads to …

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STJ#1063, Winter Solstice Chant

I’m sure there is someone who loves this piece. I’m sure there is someone who isn’t bothered by gendered language. I’m sure there is someone who thinks four verses makes a chant. I am not that someone. Children of the Earth, we have come to sing to each other, Sister to Brother, songs of our …

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STJ#1044, Eli, Eli

Happy New Year! In the words of Colonel Sherman Potter (M*A*S*H), “may it be a damn sight better than the old one.” If today’s hymn is any indication, it will be full of beautiful reminders that there is a love holding us. This haunting song, composed by David Zehavi, is based on a poem by an …

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STJ#1034, De Noche

One of the Facebook memes going around right now is about memories – namely, asking for people to post memories of you, with a fair bit of delight at the answers. If my friend and colleague Ashley DeTar Birt were to ask, I would be hard pressed to pick just one memory, as our friendship, which began the first week …

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STJ#1032, Daoona Nayeesh

Let us live in peace… let us die in peace. Wow. The song’s origins are, not surprising, found in the years following the attacks on 9/11: This song is the inspiration of a Muslim residing in the United States, Samir Badri. Samir recruited the composer(Ted Warmbrand), a Jew, to set his words to a tune, …

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STJ#1016, Profetiza, Pueblo Mio

I’m sad to say I’ve not sung this very much. I’m sad because I’ve opted for comfort and chosen other hymns for justice-oriented services, in part because I’m not as comfortable singing Spanish as I am other languages, in part because I’ve not had accompanists willing to try it, and in part because – at …

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STJ#1011, Return Again

There’s a wonderful podcast called Song Exploder, where host Hrishikesh Hirway invites songwriters to talk about the origins and construction of their songs; they ‘explode’ the song apart to share insights about the ideas for the song, and about the various parts as it goes from hummed melody and chords on a piano to fully …

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STJ#1003, Where Do We Come From?

Throughout this practice, I’ve happened upon many hymns that were inspired by (or were outright settings of) poetry; that makes sense, as lyric forms seek out one another naturally. But this is the first time I’ve encountered one inspired by paintings. As noted on the UUA’s Song Information page, The lyrics of this song come …

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STJ#1001, Breaths

You could call this one “How Is This My Life?” or maybe “God Bless the Revolution.”… and you’d certainly use the hashtag #MyUnion. But I think we’ll call this one “Our Rock Stars Are Not Your Rock Stars.” Now the rock star in question is not composer Ysaye Barnwell, although she is a rock star, …

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