Musical Musings: September 19 – 25, 2021

Music Notes – Sunday, September 19th:  

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

Centering Music: Homeward Bound – Keen Thompson

American composer, performer and music educator Marta Keen Thompson (b. 1953) has been an active and well-respected figure in the choral music scene since the 1980s. She has directed a number of ensembles in the western United States and is currently based in Las Vegas. She originally wrote “Homeward Bound” as an art song for tenor and piano as a gift to a friend. It has since been arranged for a variety of performing forces and has become a staple of modern choral repertoire and has been recorded by The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and many other ensembles.

Opening Hymn: #1 May Nothing Evil Cross This Door – Quaile and Untermeyer

“May Nothing Evil Cross This Door” (also known as “Prayer for This House”) has the honor of being hymn #1 in our Singing the Living Tradition hymnal. The words, which were first published in 1923, are by Louis Untermeyer (1885-1977). Untermeyer was an American author, poet, and businessman (co-founder of Untermeyer-Robbins Jewelry), and was even a onetime panelist on the TV show What’s My Line? The music for “May Nothing Evil Cross This Door” is a hymn tune called “Oldbridge” (first published 1906), which was composed by Robert N. Quaile (1867-1927), an Irish businessman and minister’s son who was not a professional musician but wrote songs and hymns for his own enjoyment.

Sung Meditation: #1003 Where Do We Come From? – Tate, arr. Carney

The lyrics for “Where Do We Come From?” originate from the title of a famous oil painting by Paul Gauguin (1848-1903). Gaugin’s painting depicts a group of women who represent the three questions posed in his title. Women shown with a young child represent the beginning of life: “Where Do We Come From?” A second group of women represent the daily existence of adulthood: “What Are We?” Finally, an old woman nearing the end of her life is asking, “Where Are We Going?” The musical adaptation was written in 1999 by Canadian composer Brian Tate (b. 1954) and is #1003 in our Singing the Journey hymnbook. The choral arrangement you’ll hear this Sunday was written by UUCC Music Director Mike Carney and is performed by our Chancel Choir.

Offertory music: Home – Menken and Rice

“Home” is a song from the 1994 Broadway musical Beauty and the Beast, which was itself an adaptation of the Disney animated film of the same name. The song was written specifically for the Broadway adaptation of Beauty and the Beast and is sung by Belle, the female lead, who at this point in the story has been imprisoned by the beast and is missing her home and reimaging what and where her home might be in the future. “Home” was written by composer Alan Menken (b.1949) and lyricist Tim Rice (b. 1944), both of whom are celebrated for their work in theatre, film, and television, and are two of only sixteen people to have ever earned an EGOT (meaning they have won Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Awards).

Special Music: Let This Be a House of Peace – Scott 

Jim Scott (b. 1946) is a UU composer, author and activist. Classically trained at the Eastman School of Music, Jim’s compositional styles range from classical to jazz, pop and folk music. He was the guitarist for the Paul Winter Consort for many years and has produced multiple solo recordings and songbooks as well. He has also written music for stage and screen, as well as choral works and songs for children, and is responsible for many of the songs in our hymnbooks, including “Gather the Spirit”, “Nothing but Peace Is Enough” and “May Your Life Be As a Song”.  #1054 in Singing the Journey, “Let This Be a House of Peace” was inspired by a poem written by UU minister and author Kenneth Patton (1911-1994). 

Closing Hymn: #121 We’ll Build a Land – McDade and Zanotti

We’ll Build a Land” (Singing the Living Tradition #121) is one of the best-known and most beloved UU Hymns. The song was written by Carolyn McDade (b. 1935), a self-described songwriter, spiritual feminist, and social activist, who is also the composer of other UU favorites like “Spirit of Life”, “Come, Sing a Song with Me”, and “Rising Green”. The words, written by Barbara Zanotti, are paraphrased from the Old Testament books of Amos and Isaiah.

Postlude: Ordinary Miracles – Bergman, Bergman, and Hamlisch

“Ordinary Miracles” is a 1994 song written by American composer Marvin Hamlisch (1944-2012), who is another member of the very exclusive EGOT club (see “Home” above). The lyrics for “Ordinary Miracles were written by the husband-and-wife team of Alan Bergman (b. 1925) and Marilyn Bergman (b. 1929), who are also Grammy and Oscar winners and inductees into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame. The song was originally recorded in 1994 by Barbra Streisand and has become one of her signature songs. 

-Mike Carney, UUCC Music Director