Musical Musings: January 23 – 29, 2022

Music Notes – Sunday, January 23rd:  
This Sunday’s musicians are UUCC Music Director Mike Carney, Pete Clapham, and Anita Stoll.
Opening Hymn: Wake Now, My Senses – Irish folk tune/Mikelson 
#298 in Singing the Living Tradition, “Wake Now, My Senses” is a setting of “Slane”, an Irish folk song that is most commonly associated with “Be Thou My Vision” (which is also in our hymnal as #20). “Slane” is named for a hill in County Meath, Ireland, where St. Patrick’s lighting of an Easter fire – an act of defiance against the 5th Century pagan king Loegaire – led to his unlimited freedom to preach the gospel in Ireland. The words you’ll be hearing – and hopefully singing along with – this Sunday were written by the Rev. Thomas Mikelson (1936-2020), a UU Minister and native of Iowa who was also an educator and activist for racial justice and LGBTQ rights.
Centering Music: Don’t Get Down on Your Knees to Pray (Until You Have Forgiven Everyone) – Ellington
One of the true legends of American music, jazz composer and bandleader Duke Ellington (1899-1974) was best known for writing dozens of jazz standards, including “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)”, “Mood Indigo”, and “Come Sunday”. Late in his career, Ellington composed three larger works (each titled Sacred Concert) that combined elements of jazz, classical music, choral music, spirituals, gospel, blues and dance and explored Ellington’s relationship with the spiritual world. Ellington called these compositions “the most important music I’ve ever written”.  “Don’t Get Down on Your Knees to Pray (Until You Have Forgiven Everyone)” is from Sacred Concert No. 2, which premiered in January of 1968 at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City.
Sung Meditation: #182 O, the Beauty in a Life (Quimada/Visayan Tune)
For most UUs living in the United States, “O, the Beauty in a Life” (#182) is one of the less familiar hymns in our Singing the Living Tradition hymnal. The bouncy, rolling tune is based on a Visayan (Filipino) folk melody, and the words were written by Bishop Toribio Quimada (1917-1988), a native Filipino minister and activist who founded the Universalist (now Unitarian Universalist) Church of the Philippines.
Offertory music: Slane – Irish Folk Song, arr. Barr
“Slane” is an old Irish folk tune often associated with the ballad “With My Love on the Road” in Patrick W. Joyce’s Old Irish Folk Music and Songs (1909). It became known as a hymn tune when it was arranged by David Evans and set to the Irish hymn “Be Thou My Vision”, first published in the Church Hymnary (1927). The version of “Slane” you’ll hear on Sunday is an adaptation of a 1994 organ arrangement by John G. Barr (b. 1938), an American composer, organist, and music educator.
Closing Hymn: #1026 If Every Woman in the World – McKay
#1026 in our Singing the Journey hymnbook, “If Every Woman in the World” is a country/folk style waltz written by American singer, songwriter and storyteller Karen Mackay (b. 1952) with additional lyrics by Nancy Nordlie (b. 1953). The song grew from Karen MacKay’s deep connection to the living tradition of West Virginia women’s music; a tradition that, in Karen’s hands and voice, continues to be the means for perpetuating the simple ancient wisdom of mountain women. In 1982, suffering harassment at work and unsure of her life’s direction, Karen spent a weekend with “Aunt Jenny” and received the wisdom that has guided her life and music ever since. “Just git out there and play yer banjo. Git out there and play yer music and give ‘em all you’ve got!” Two weeks later Karen had quit her job, and a year later she had written and recorded the songs on her first album, Annie Oakley Rides Again, which included “If Every Woman in the World”. Karen’s strong belief in the power of women to influence global culture and bring peace to the world found a deep expression in this song, and women all over the world have responded by passing it on from woman to woman, country to country. It has been sung at the 1985 International Women’s Conference in Nairobi, as well as at retreats and gatherings throughout Canada and the United States. The most important thing to remember when singing this music is to heed the simple wisdom of “Aunt Jenny” Wilson, “Just git out there…and give ‘em all you’ve got!” (includes material from and from Hot Wire Magazine, July 1985)
Postlude: Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me `Round (African American Spiritual)
“Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me ‘Round” came to prominence as an anthem of the American Civil Rights Movement. It is based on an older song called “Don’t Let Nobody Turn Me Round”, which is generally believed to be an anonymous African American Spiritual from the 19th century.  The piano arrangement you’ll hear Sunday by UUCC Music Director Mike Carney is loosely based on a 2013 choral setting of the song by American composer Rollo Dilworth (b. 1970).

                                                                                                                                    -Mike Carney, UUCC Music Director