Musical Musings: August 21, 2022

Music Notes – Sunday, August 21st:

This week’s musician is UUCC Pianist Karin Tooley

Opening Hymn: #360 Here We Have Gathered – Carpenter

A favorite opening hymn in many UU Congregations, #360 “Here We Have Gathered” is based on a Genevan psalter that dates back to at least the 16th century, juxtaposed with a 20th-century text by UU songwriter Alicia Carpenter (1930-2021). “Here We Have Gathered” is one of 10 hymns in Singing the Living Tradition that were written or co-written by Ms. Carpenter. Some of her other contributions to our hymnal include #6 “Just as Long as I Have Breath” and #300 “With Heart and Mind”.

Centering Music: Anytime You Need a Friend – Carey/Afanasieff

“Anytime You Need a Friend” was written in 1993 by American singer/songwriter Mariah Carey (b. 1969) along with Russian-American songwriter, musician, and producer Walter Afanasieff (b. 1958). The song was included on Carey’s 1993 album Music Box and was released as a single in May of 1994. The gospel-style song was a top-20 hit in the U.S. and Canada as well as several overseas markets and received wide critical acclaim.

Sung Meditation: #402 From You I Receive – Segal and Segal

Most UUs are familiar with this short and simple round, which is #402 in Singing the Living Tradition and is used by many UU congregations as their weekly offertory response. What many UUs do not know is that the song was written and performed by two brothers, Joseph and Nathan Segal, who describe themselves as “12th generation singing rabbis”. The Segal brothers had a successful career as both spiritual leaders and entertainers, blending music, humor, and life lessons in their appearances.

Offertory Music: Thank You for Being a Friend – Gold & Walsh    

“Thank You for Being a Friend” was originally written and performed by American singer-songwriter Andrew Gold (1951-2011) along with his bandmate Brock Walsh. Gold’s original 1978 recording achieved moderate success, but today, most people associate “Thank You for Being a Friend” with Cynthia Fee’s cover version that would become the theme song for the popular NBC sitcom The Golden Girls, which aired from 1985-1992 and is still a part of our cultural landscape in reruns, memes, merchandise, and even a live on-stage puppet parody.  

Closing Hymn: # 1021 Lean on Me

First released in 1972, “Lean on Me” was the first and only number one hit for R&B legend Bill Withers (1938-2020).  In 1987, a remake by the reggae band Club Nouveau won Withers a Grammy Award for Best Song and made “Lean on Me” one of only a handful of songs to have reached #1 both in its original form and then later as a cover version. The song was notably performed by Mary J. Blige at the concert celebrating the inauguration of President Barack Obama in 2009, and is included in our Singing the Journey hymnbook as #1021.

Postlude: It Takes a Village – Syzmko, arr. Tooley

Joan Szymko (b.1957) is an award-winning composer and conductor from the Pacific Northwest. With a catalog of over 100 published choral works, her music is performed by ensembles across North America and abroad. Joan Szymko wrote “It Takes A Village” for the Portland-based Aurora Chorus, who premiered it in 2000. In the composer’s own words: “when adapting the west African saying, ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’ I sought to embody the cultural concept behind this proverb—that it is truly all the individual parts linked and working together that create and support the whole. The…rhythms in the main portion of the work, each with its own character and function, are essential to creating the unique energy and movement of “Village.” Only when they are heard together does a truly joyful spirit arrive.”

                                                                                  -Mike Carney, UUCC Music Director