Musical Musings 11-20 – From Dvořák to Szymko with our Chancel Choir


Music Notes for November 20th, 2022

This Sunday’s musicians are UUCC Pianist Karin Tooley, UUCC Music Director Mike Carney, and the Chancel Choir.


Opening Hymn: #404 What Gift Can We Bring – Marshall

“What Gift Can We Bring” was written in 1980 by Texas native Jane Marshall (1924-2019) for the 25th anniversary of her congregation, Northhaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas. Over her long career, Marshall wrote over 200 hymns and anthems for her home congregation and others. Today, “What Gift Can We Bring” can be found in the hymnals of many denominations, including in our own Singing the Living Tradition (#404).


Centering Music: Thankful – Foster, Sager, and Page

“Thankful” was the result of a collaboration between three professional songwriters: the Grammy and Academy Award-winning Carol Bayer Sager (b. 1947), who has performed as a solo artist and written lyrics for Melissa Manchester, Marvin Hamlisch, and Burt Bacharach (among many others), Richard Page (b. 1953), who is famously known as the lead singer and songwriter of the band Mister Mister and continues to work as a songwriter and performer to this day, and Canadian composer-arranger-producer David Foster (b. 1949), who has won 16 Grammy Awards to date and has written and produced music for Earth, Wind and Fire, Chicago, Whitney Houston, and dozens of other artists. Foster, Sager, and Page wrote “Thankful” for renowned American singer-songwriter and actor Josh Groban (b. 1981), who recorded and released the song on his 2007 holiday album Noel.


Offertory Music: The Journey – Martin

A native of North Carolina, Joseph Martin (b. 1959) is a prominent American pianist and composer.  His major works include nearly 40 choral cantatas and Song of Wisdom, a choral tone poem based on the best-selling children’s book Old Turtle. “The Journey” is an arrangement that incorporates and combines melodies from the Shaker hymn “Simple Gifts” and the “Going Home” theme from the second movement of the New World Symphony by the Czech composer Antonin Dvorak (1840-1904).


Bread Communion Song: #1010 We Give Thanks – Perkins

A native of Nova Scotia, Wendy Luella Perkins (b. 1966) is a singer, songwriter and UU Minister. Still active as a musician, Wendy is also known as a local food and farm activist in Ontario, where she currently lives. Ms. Perkins wrote “We Give Thanks” in 2004, and her song is #1010 in our Singing the Journey hymnbook.


Closing Hymn: The Fire of Commitment – Shelton 

Jason Shelton is an award-winning composer, arranger, conductor, song and worship leader, workshop presenter, and coach. He served as the Associate Minister for Music at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville, Tennessee from 1998-2017, and is now engaged in a music ministry at-large, focused on serving the musical resource needs of UU (and other liberal) congregations around the country (from The Fire of Commitment (#1028) is one of many contributions Rev. Shelton has made to our Singing the Journey hymnbook. The unrest of its irregular meter and the insistent rhythmic pulse drive home the call to action that is at the core of the song’s message. 


Postlude: How Did the Rose – Szymko/Hafiz

Joan Szymko (b.1957) is a composer and conductor from the Pacific Northwest. With over 100 published choral works, her music is performed by ensembles in North America and around the world. Abundant lyricism, rhythmic integrity and a vigorous attention to text are hallmarks of Szymko’s diverse and distinctive choral writing (from “How Did the Rose” is Szymko’s 2004 setting of a poem by Hafiz (1324-1389), considered by many scholars to be the greatest poet of ancient Persia. This Sunday, you’ll hear “How Did the Rose” sung by our Chancel Choir, accompanied by Lucy Carney at the piano.

                                                                        -Mike Carney, UUCC Music Director