This week, several Unitarian Universalist blogs are discussing the value of song in our churches and our lives, inspired by an article in the New York Times about “community sings” and one of Unitarian Universalism’s biggest proponent of singing in groups, Pete Seeger. This sermon by Martha Dallas (PDF), the Director of Religious Education at the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Burlington, Vermont, speaks directly to the power of song in our religious lives:
“Being Carried Away”
by Martha Dallas
I have been singing all my life. I’ve sung in church choirs, school choruses, gospel choirs, chamber ensembles, and done solo performances. I also sing for myself: many times a day, I’ll spit out a spontaneous ditty to diffuse tension, express my joy, or illicit a chuckle from my partner. I sing in the car, the bath and the shower. I sing what I know, and improvise to suit my mood and the meanderings of my curious ear.
Since I’ve lived in Burlington, I’ve sung with Social Band, a group that has performed as guest musicians here a number of times. About a year ago I got an email from one of my singing buddies. He wrote, “Let me know if you want to come to a workshop about singing for people who are dying.”
Singing with Social Band, I’ve grown in my appreciation of singing for song’s sake, rather than just for performance. Social Band’s core repertoire is shape note music. Rooted in New England, it is a church-based, a capella tradition, which was written for worship, not for performance.
To me, death and life are inextricable, and I’ve always grappled with the meaning of existence.
So, would I attend a workshop that brought singing together with hospice? My response was instinctive and immediate: Yes!
(Read on … )
, Martha Dallas