Musical Musings: July 11 – July 17, 2021

Music Notes – Sunday, July 11th:  

This Sunday’s musicians are Lucy Carney, Anne Sanford, Steve Sanford, and UUCC Music Director Mike Carney

Centering music: Come Sunday – Ellington

“Come Sunday” is the best-known piece of music from a larger jazz suite called Black, Brown and Beige. The work was released in 1943 by renowned jazz composer and bandleader Duke Ellington (1899-1974), who introduced it at its Carnegie Hall premiere as “a tone parallel to the history of the Negro in America.” “Come Sunday” stands alongside many great jazz compositions by Ellington, which include “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)”, “In A Sentimental Mood”, “I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good”, “Mood Indigo”, and dozens of others. “Come Sunday” is also #202 in our Singing the Living Tradition hymnbook. 

Opening Hymn: Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee – Beethoven/Van Dyke

“Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” (also known as “Ode to Joy”) is a familiar and well-loved hymn, not just in Unitarian Universalist congregations (where it is #29 in Singing the Living Tradition), but in hundreds of denominations around the world. The triumphant tune is from the final movement of Symphony #9 by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), and it is no exaggeration to say it is among the most famous melodies ever composed. The words were written in 1907 by American author, poet, and educator Henry Van Dyke (1852-1933), who wrote the words with Beethoven’s melody in mind and published his poem under the title “Hymn to Joy”.

Meditation response: Heleluyan – Muscogee (Creek) song  

#366 in our Singing the Living Tradition hymnal, “Heleluyan” (Hallelujah) is a folk song from the Muscogee Creek hymn tradition, believed to have originated in the early 19th century. In a 2014 story on NPR’s All Things Considered, Dr. Hugh Foley, a fine arts instructor and Native American history professor at Rogers State University in Claremore, OK, explains more about this music:

“We’re talking about a pre-removal music that happened in the early 1800’s and was a combination of African spirituals, Muscogee words and perhaps some influences from their ceremonial songs and then all that being started by the Scottish missionaries who bring in Christianity and their own singing style. All three of those merge into what we now know as Muscogee Creek hymns which are a unique musical product in American and world music history.”

Offertory: Improvisation on “Slane” – Carney, based on an Irish folk melody 

“Slane” is an old Irish folk tune associated with the ballad “With My Love on the Road” in Patrick W. Joyce’s Old Irish Folk Music and Songs (1909). It became 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). “Slane” is named for a hill in County Meath, Ireland, where legend has it that 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. (from

Closing Hymn: Over My Head – African American Spiritual  

“Over My Head” (sometimes titled “Up Above My Head”) is an African American Spiritual thought to have originated sometime during the 18th century in the southern United States. Like many Spirituals, the song expresses an optimism that hardship and trouble are part of a larger Divine plan and that better days are yet to come.  The song is featured in a number of hymnals, including as #30 in our own Singing the Living Tradition.

Postlude: Shout, Shout, Shout and Sing – Shaker Song

“Shout, Shout, Shout and Sing” is a Shaker Song believed to have originated with a Shaker settlement in South Union, Kentucky, and first published in 1848 in a shape-note hymnal. The song features many hallmarks of Shaker Songs, including lively rhythms, a circular song form, and the use of nonsense syllables to carry parts of the melody.                                                                                     

-Mike Carney, UUCC Music Director