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#1022, Open the Window

For about a dozen years, my mother lived on the Outer Banks of North Carolina – it’s how I got to the state too. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, I would come in from the Raleigh-Durham area, and the rest of my family would come down from New York to celebrate the holidays. And on Thanksgiving …

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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#1020, Woyaya

This song has been in the water for me since the late 70s, when somewhere (maybe Girl Scout camp?) I was taught the piece in the style of Art Garfunkel from his 1973 album Angel Clare. Sometime in the early 1990s, I sang a choral version that had the mark of Sweet Honey in the …

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STJ#1019, Everything Possible

Things I wonder: Do some congregations sing this together fairly regularly? Do some music directors and ministers flip past it because it is somewhat complex if you don’t know it already? Do others flip past it because in 13 years we’ve learned that binary language is too restrictive? Does composer and colleague Fred Small have …

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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#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#1014, Answering the Call of Love

If you open your hymnal, you will see that the song has a different title printed. Now if you’ve been paying attention, you have also marked up this song’s title and lyrics, as per the composer’s instructions, changing “standing on the side” to the much less ableist and much more active “answering the call.” I …

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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#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#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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STJ#1000, Morning Has Come

I AM SO EXCITED I could plotz! Not only am I cracking the cover of the next hymnal this morning, I am singing one of my top ten favorite hymns, composed by the delightful Jason Shelton. This venture into Singing the Journey will look a little bit different than our time with Singing the Living …

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