Musical Musings 03-26: Jazz, Folk, and Ysaye Barnwell songs with Mike Carney and our Chancel Choir and Women’s Ensemble

Music Notes – Sunday, March 26th

This week’s musicians are The Chancel Choir, The Women’s Ensemble, and UUCC Music Director Mike Carney


Opening Hymn: #140 Hail the Glorious Golden City – Adler/Prichard

“Hail the Glorious Golden City” (#140 in Singing the Living Tradition) is a setting of “Hyfrydol”, a popular Welsh hymn tune credited to Rowland Prichard (1811-1887) and familiar to modern UUs as the tune of “Blue Boat Home”. The words for “Hail the Glorious Golden City” were written by Felix Adler (1851-1933), a German-American author and educator who founded the New York Society for Ethical Culture in 1876.


Centering Music: Peace Piece – Evans

Bill Evans (1929-1980) was a jazz pianist and composer, famously known as the leader of the Bill Evans Trio and for writing several standards, including “Waltz for Debby”, “Funkallero”, and “NYC’s No Lark”. Evans received 8 Grammy Awards, including a posthumous lifetime achievement award and is an inductee in the DownBeat Jazz Hall of Fame. Evans recorded “Peace Piece” in December of 1958 and included it on his 1959 album Everybody Digs Bill Evans. The song is built around a two-chord ostinato in the left hand supporting a right hand melody that begins with gentle, consonant sounds but then becomes freer and more experimental in both melody and harmonic language as the song progresses.


Offertory Music: Bright Morning Stars – Appalachian Folk Song, arr. Althouse

“Bright Morning Stars” is an Appalachian spiritual that may also have roots in Irish or Scottish folk music. The exact origins of the song are lost to history, but it has become a popular choice in modern hymnals, including our own Singing the Living Tradition (#357) and has been recorded by many folk and popular artists, including The Seeger Sisters, The Wailin’ Jennys and Judy Collins.


Closing Hymn: #1051 We Are… – Barnwell

 #1051 in Singing the Journey, “We Are…” was composed by Ysaye Barnwell (b. 1946) for Sweet Honey in the Rock. “We Are…” was originally the last song in a suite that began with the lyric, “Lawd, it’s midnight. A dark and fear filled midnight. Lawd, it’s a midnight without stars.” Dr. Barnwell wanted to create a complete circle of experience, and so she wrote “for each child that’s born, a morning star rises…” This phrase is meant to establish hope, and it defines the uniqueness of each one of us. No matter what our race, culture or ethnicity, each one of us has been called into being and are the sum total of all who came before. In the composer’s words, “Each and every one of us stands atop a lineage that has had at its core, mothers and fathers and teachers and dreamers and shamans and healers and builders and warriors and thinkers and, and, and…so in spite of our uniqueness, we come from and share every experience that human kind has ever had. In this way, we are one. (from


Postlude: Wanting Memories – Barnwell

“Wanting Memories” is a 1980 composition by Ysaye Barnwell (b. 1946), a UU songwriter, activist and former member of the a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock. Written in 1980 and dedicated to Barnwell’s father, “Wanting Memories” is part of a larger suite of songs written for a dance theater piece called Crossings. In the words of the composer herself: “I did dedicate (“Wanting Memories”) to my father when we recorded it, but it was written while both my parents were still alive. What was special, though, was that I am an only child and when my father died and then my mother, and I prepared to sell the house I grew up in, I found bags of photos, letters and other memorabilia—the kind of things especially an only child hopes for… So in a sense, the song was an unconscious wish or prayer that actually came true.”                                        

                                                        -Mike Carney, UUCC Music Director