Musical Musings: September 12 – 18, 2021

Come early to church on September 12th for special music from Fire Force Reggae!

For our Ingathering Service this Sunday, September 12th, UUCC will host some very special guest musicians, who will be helping with the music during our service that morning and also will play pre-service music beginning at 10:20 a.m. Ghani Harris and Fire Force will be our guests that morning – they are a Cleveland-based group that specializes in Reggae and other Caribbean-inspired music. You may have heard Ghani and his friends playing at Larchmere Porchfest or at local venues like The Grog Shop and Music Box Supper Club. Don’t miss this special musical treat! 

Music Notes – Sunday, September 12th:  

This Sunday’s musicians are Fire Force, UUCC Music Director Mike Carney, and members of the UUCC Chancel Choir  

Special Music: Bring Me Little Water, Sylvie – Ledbetter 

Huddie William Ledbetter (1888-1949), better known as Lead Belly, was an American folk/blues performer and songwriter, famous for such songs as “Goodnight, Irene”, “Midnight Special”, and “In the Pines”. Lead Belly first began performing “Bring Me Little Water, Sylvie” in the 1930s and is generally credited as the song’s composer, but many historians believe he adapted a work song that was already commonly heard in Texas and Louisiana during that time and likely originated several decades earlier. Lead Belly would often tell his audiences that his version of the song was about his Uncle Bob, who would call for his wife, Sylvie, to bring him some water when he got thirsty while working in his fields.

Opening Hymn: #1042 Shall We Gather at the River

“Shall We Gather at the River” (also known as “At the River” or “Beautiful River”) is a well-known American hymn that was written by Baptist minister and hymn writer Robert Lowry (1826-1899). Originally sung only in Baptist services, Lowry’s song can now be found in the hymnals of nearly all Christian denominations and is #1042 in our own Singing the Journey hymnbook. It has been recorded by hundreds of performing groups and solo artists, and has been arranged for soloists, choirs, orchestras, marching bands, and nearly every other type of ensemble you can imagine. 

Special Music: River Is Flowing – Traditional chant 

“River Is Flowing” is a chant/circle song that is often sung at Pagan gatherings. The origins of the song are unclear – some believe it is based on a Native American melody, while others claim it is an Irish or Hebrew folksong. Just like the water represented in the song’s lyrics, it seems to come from and flow into every part of our world. Please sing along this Sunday with this gentle and rhythmic chant. 

Offertory music: Somos el Barco – Wyatt       

“Somos el Barco (We Are the Boat)” is the best-known composition of folk singer and songwriter Lorre Wyatt (b. 1945). A native of New Jersey, Wyatt was also long-rumored to be the original composer of Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind”, a claim Wyatt himself has disavowed. “Somos el Barco”, which has been recorded many artists, including Pete Seeger and Peter, Paul and Mary, is a song of our shared voyage and aspirations to build a better world together. Please sing along with the chorus as the spirit moves you!

Special Music: Earth and Ocean – Fusco 

“Earth and Ocean” is a song written by Mary Ann Fusco for her folk ensemble Aradia, released on the 1984 album Songs for All Seasons. The song can be sung in unison or as a round, and I encourage all of you to join in as the spirit moves you this Sunday. 

Special Music: Rivers of Babylon – McNaughton, Reyam, Farian, and Dowe

#1042 in our Singing the Journey hymnbook, “Rivers of Babylon” was written in 1970 by Trevor McNaughton, George Reyam, Frank Farian, and Brent Dowe for the Jamaican Reggae/Rocksteady group The Melodians. The original recording was not widely heard outside of Jamaica, but a 1978 cover version by Boney M. became a number one hit in the U.K. and reached the top 40 in the U.S. The title “Rivers of Babylon” refers to a time in the 6th-5th centuries B.C.E., when the Jewish people were led off into exile following the destruction of their nation and temple. These experiences produced a literature (reflected in Psalm 137, “By the rivers of Babylon…”) that expressed a desire for repentance and reconciliation with God, and a return to the land of Judah. (includes material from

Special Music: Sweet Communion – Shaker song, arr. Carney 

“Sweet Communion” is an American folk hymn that is believed to have originated in the South Union Shaker Settlement in what is now Auburn, Kentucky. For our Water Communion service, UUCC Music Director Mike Carney has adapted the song, changing the nonsense syllables in the song’s refrain to new lyrics that reflect our congregation’s beloved tradition. 

Closing Hymn: Blue Boat Home – Prichard & 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 was 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”.

                                                                                    -Mike Carney, UUCC Music Director