Musical Musings: February 11-17, 2021

Hello members and friends of UUCC, 

I hope you can be a part of our online worship service this Sunday, February 14th, led by Rev. Joe Cherry. We’ll celebrate the 7th UU Principle of the Interdependent Web of All Creation this week, and we have some musical selections that I think you will enjoy. See below for this week’s Music Notes. 

I also want to invite all of you to take part in a special UU Hymn Sing on Zoom (yes, that is possible) on Saturday, February 27th from 1-2 p.m. I’ll lead hymns from my home and all of you are invited to sing along, either by yourself or with other members of your household. To avoid the dreaded Zoom lag, all participants (except for me) will be muted during hymn singing, so it’ll sound like you and I are singing a duet, but still feel like all of us are making music together. Best of all, we can sing without any concerns about the virus – it’s a fun way to share some of our favorite music with each other! I’ll also let you in on some interesting tidbits about the music as we go along and take requests from the members and friends who are participating. Join me for an hour of music and fellowship! 

Music Notes – Sunday, February 14th:  

Music 1: All Creatures of the Earth and Sky

“All Creatures of the Earth and Sky” (also known as “All Creatures of Our God and King”) is #203 in our Singing the Living Tradition hymnbook and is also found in hundreds of other hymnals throughout various faith traditions. The hymn has a rich history: “in the year 1225, completely blind and nearing the end of his life, St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) arrived at the Convent of St. Damian to bid goodbye to his dear friend, Sister Clara, the first woman to follow the call of St. Francis and take vows of the Order. Clara built him a small reed hut in the garden of her little monastery. It’s said that at times St. Francis could be heard singing faint melodies from within the hut. It was at a meal with the sisters after having stayed for some time at the monastery that St. Francis wrote his famous text, ‘Canticle of the Sun’ or ‘Song of All Creatures,’ which was translated and paraphrased by William H. Draper (1855-1933) around 1910.” (from hymnary.org) The tune comes from a German Easter hymn titled “Lasst uns erfreuen herzlich sehr” (“Let Us Be Filled with Great Joy”), which dates back to at least the 17th century. The arrangement you are hearing today was written by UUCC’s Music Director Mike Carney based on a harmonization by British composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) and features Mike at the organ along with the UUCC Chancel Choir. 

Music 2: O Brother Sun

#1066 in our Singing the Journey hymnbook, “O Brother Sun” is based on a well-known poem by St. Francis of Assisi. Sharon Anway wrote these lyrics for the Feast Day of St. Francis and adapted them to the Scottish tune “Ye Banks and Braes” at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Cedar Falls, IA, where Sharon is director of Music Ministry and Composer-in-Residence. The St. Luke’s Choir debuted “O Brother Sun” in October of 2002 during that congregation’s annual St. Francis Day service. (from uua.org) In our service this Sunday, the song will be led by UUCC’s Chancel Choir with Mike Carney on piano.  

Music 3/Offertory: Improvisation – Karin Tooley

Our offertory music this Sunday is a gently flowing improvisation from UUCC Pianist Karin Tooley. Karin’s improvisation, primarily within the key of D major, weaves melody and sometimes-surprising harmonic ideas together in a tapestry of creative musical expression. 

Music 4/Postlude: Blue Boat Home – Mayer, arr. Shelton 

A native of Minnesota, folk musician Peter Mayer (b. 1963) is a guitarist and songwriter who specializes in earth-centered music. UU congregations know and love Peter as the lyricist behind “Blue Boat Home”, which first appeared on Mayer’s album The Great Story and is #1064 in our Singing the Journey hymnbook. The melody Mayer set his inspiring words to is called “Hyfrodol”, a popular Welsh hymn tune credited to Rowland Prichard (1811-1887). The piano accompaniment and choral harmonies were added by Rev. Jason Shelton (b. 1972), who also wrote several other beloved UU songs, including “Standing on the Side of Love”, The Fire of Commitment”, and “Life Calls Us On”. This Sunday, “Blue Boat Home” will be led by Mike Carney on piano and the UUCC Chancel Choir. 

-Mike Carney, UUCC Music Director