Musical Musings 06-04: Songs of joy and beauty with The Women’s Ensemble

Music Notes – Sunday, June 4th:   

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


Opening Hymn: #78 Color and Fragrance – Čapek

#78 in our Singing the Living Tradition hymnal, “Color and Fragrance” was written by Norbert Čapek (1870-1942), a Czech author, poet, activist and minister who brought the Unitarian movement to his native country. Most modern UUs associate “Color and Fragrance with flower communion, a much-loved UU tradition that was first celebrated by Čapek with his home congregation in 1923. The song is defined by its sweet and simple melody and by its lyrical message of hope and promise, both in the beauty of nature and in humankind’s capacity for love and compassion.


Centering Music: Selections from Woodland Sketches – MacDowell

Edward MacDowell (1860-1908) was an American pianist and composer of the Romantic period. He was best known for his piano music, though he also wrote for orchestra, solo voices and chorus. His most famous compositions were the piano works Sea Pieces, New England Idylls, and Woodland Sketches (Op. 51), which MacDowell wrote during the summer of 1896 while staying at a family farm in Peterborough, New Hampshire. Each of the individual works within Woodland Sketches is inspired by an aspect of the nature and landscape surrounding the farm. Ten short pieces for solo piano are included in Woodland Sketches, and MacDowell’s music blends Romantic and Impressionist techniques, and also incorporates some elements of Native American music and Appalachian hymnody. “To a Wild Rose” (No. 1) and “To a Water-lily” (No. 6) are both among MacDowell’s best-known works.


Offertory: Somos el Barco – Wyatt  

“Somos el Barco (We Are the Boat)” is the best-known composition of folk singer and songwriter Lorre Wyatt (b. 1945). A native of New Jersey, Wyatt was also long-rumored to be the original composer of Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind”, a claim Wyatt himself has disavowed. “Somos el Barco”, which has been recorded many artists, including Pete Seeger and Peter, Paul and Mary, is a song of our shared voyage and aspirations to build a better world together.


Closing Hymn: De Colores – Spanish folk song

“De Colores” is a traditional folk song that is well-known throughout the Spanish-speaking world. It is sung in many religious traditions and is also frequently heard at rallies for the United Farm Workers. There is some debate among musicologists regarding the history of “De Colores”, with some claiming the song is purely Mexican in origin, while the more widely accepted view is that the melody and some of the lyrics came from Spain and date back at least 400 years. “De Colores” is #305 in our Singing the Living Tradition hymnal, and the song has become a staple of flower communion services for many UU congregations.


Postlude: What a Wonderful World – Weiss & Thiele

“What a Wonderful World” was written in 1967 by record producer Bob Thiele (1922-1996) and songwriter George David Weiss (1921-2010). The song was first offered to Tony Bennett, but after Bennett turned it down, it was offered to and subsequently recorded by Louis Armstrong. Armstrong’s now-iconic recording did not initially receive much attention or airplay in the United States, although it became a #1 hit in the United Kingdom. Over the years, “What a Wonderful World” has become one of the best-known and beloved standards in American popular music, having been recorded by dozens of other artists (including one Mr. Tony Bennett) and featured on the soundtracks of numerous movies and television shows.

                                                                         -Mike Carney, UUCC Music Director