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#1030, Siyahamba

Y’all took the joy right out of this one for me. You know who “you” are – you who dislike this one, you who find the Zulu difficult, you who argue against the word “God” in the translation, you who think it’s overused or too cheesy, you who won’t use it for other reasons you …

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STJ#1023, Building Bridges

There is a moment in the film The Princes Bride, where Westley, who has been mostly dead all day, is trying to figure out how he and his companions Fezzick and Inigo can storm the castle to rescue Westley’s true love, Buttercup. However, having been mostly dead, and having only just taken the miracle pill …

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STJ#1021, Lean on Me

Last night, in a text conversation with Michael Tino, we got to talking about our frustrations with some of the arrangements in Singing the Journey, in part because some of the songs come out of popular music and many members have memories of the originals (or of well-known covers). And thus, when we get to …

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STJ#1018, Come and Go with Me

This might be, as the hymnal suggests, a spiritual from the time of American slavery. This might also be, as some online sources suggest, a traditional blues tune. I hate when the search for information in inconclusive. Because I don’t know whether to talk about the use of 19th century spirituals in our predominantly white …

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STJ#1017, Building a New Way

For all the awfulness of Reddit (a  social news aggregation, web content rating, and discussion website that recently had to crack down on alt-right and Nazi content/users), there is also some wonderfulness – from the AMA (Ask Me Anything) posts with famous and not so famous people, to the joy of helping others find songs, …

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STJ#1012, When I am Frightened

Back in the 1980s, there was a series of commercials produced by the group Partnership for a Drug-Free America that became memes before memes were a thing; perhaps most famous is the “this is your brain on drugs” one, featuring an egg in a hot frying pan. But in second place is the one featuring a man …

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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#1009, Meditation on Breathing

Among the many things I have learned in this practice is that while on one level, hymns are communal, they are in fact highly personal; a song one might love is the very one that another hates with the fire of a thousand suns. Some of my favorites have been met with derision, and some of the hymns …

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STJ#1006, In My Quiet Sorrow

This song speaks the truth in my heart. This song allows me to cry. This song is a balm to my soul. Composer Jeannie Gagné wrote it to give voice to “those things which are not expressed, kept within the silence of our hearts” (as noted here) – that moment after spoken joys and sorrows, to honor …

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STJ#1004, Busca el Amor

There’s a terrible film from 1999 called The 13th Warrior featuring Antonio Banderas playing a 10th century Arab ambassador to northern Europe; he somehow finds himself included in a group of Vikings setting out to deal with a threat in a distant Viking land.  At the start of this quest, Banderas understands no Norse and …

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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#1002, Comfort Me

Sometimes you have stories you just tell. Othertimes, you have stories that definitely have titles. I call this one “Snoring for God.” Our scene unfolds as my then boyfriend, Carl, and I are driving in New England. We’d started in White Plains (where Carl’s flight landed), drove over to Connecticut and hopped on Route 7, …

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