Musical Musings: October 3 – 9, 2021

Music Notes – Sunday, October 3rd:  

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

Opening Hymn: # 203 All Creatures of the Earth and Sky – Traditional German hymn, text by St. Francis of Assisi

“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 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. 

Centering Music: Dog and Butterfly – Wilson, Wilson, and Ennis, arr. Tooley

“Dog & Butterfly” was written by professional songwriter Sue Ennis along with Ann and Nancy Wilson for their band Heart. The song was the title track and second single released from Heart’s fourth studio album Dog & Butterfly. In an interview with Vulture, Nancy Wilson said of this song: ”Ann came up with those words to “Dog & Butterfly,” and it really represents her curiosity with all things spiritual. [It] has a lovely structure, and having composed the music to it, it really spoke to a lot of people. Over the years as we played the song live, people have always told us things like, ‘Oh, I cry when I hear this song every time, but what does it mean?’ It’s got a beautiful, romantic, spiritual statement to it. Ann’s taken to the idea that it’s a song about if you keep trying for your dream, don’t stop trying. You might be the dog trying to catch a butterfly, and you have to keep trying even if you don’t catch it. It narrows it down into an understandable context.” The piano arrangement you’ll be hearing on Sunday was written by UUCC’s own Karin Tooley.

Sung Meditation: #1066 O Brother Sun – Scottish folk melody, adapted text from St. Francis of Assisi

#1066 in our Singing the Journey hymnbook,” O Brother Sun” is based on the “Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon” by St. Francis of Assisi. Sharon Anway adapted the poem into the lyrics found in our hymnbook and set them to the Scottish tune “Ye Banks and Braes”. This musical setting was first performed in October of 2002 at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Cedar Falls, IA, where Sharon is director of Music Ministry and Composer-in-Residence, and hosts an annual St. Francis Day service that includes blessing of the animals. (includes material from

Offertory music: Tranquil Mountain with Birds Singing – Traditional Chinese melody, arr. Tooley

“Tranquil Mountain with Birds Singing” is a traditional folksong, believed to have originated in the Hunan province of China. The arrangement and performance of this song featured on Sunday are both by UUCC Pianist Karin Tooley.

Special Music: Animal Verses of Ogden Nash – Verhaalen & Nash

Marion Verhaalen (1930-2020) was an American teacher, author, composer, and nun who is best known for her piano music and world music, particularly that of Brazil. This Sunday, members of our choir will sing selections from Verhaalen’s 2007 song cycle Animal Verses, which consists of several settings of animal poems by American poet and humorist Ogden Nash (1902-1971).

Closing Hymn: A Place in the Choir – Staines

“A Place in the Choir”, also known as “All God’s Critters” is a song by American folk musician Bill Staines (b. 1947), who is still active as a songwriter and touring musician in his native New England. “A Place in the Choir” has been recorded by dozens of artists, including Peter, Paul and Mary, The Browns, and Celtic Thunder.

Postlude: Alley Cat – Björn

“Alley Cat” is a well-loved song written and popularized by Danish composer and pianist Bent Fabric (1924-2020), who wrote the song under the pseudonym Frank Björn. The song was released in Europe in the fall of 1961, under the Danish title “Omkring et flygel,”(Around a Piano”). By 1962, “Alley Cat” (as it was then known) had achieved international success, reaching number 7 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart and hitting number 2 in Australia. Fabric’s song also won a Grammy Award for Best Rock & Roll Recording. 

Mike Carney, UUCC Music Director