A lively 4-part choir anthem with words by Tina Filippino and melody adapted from Mozart's The Magic Flute.
Bless the Turning, by our dear friend Gretchen Sleicher. Winter solstice, as well as the uncertain times we are in on planet Earth, call for embracing the dark while we turn toward the light, finding nourishment in our dreams. Teaching track page coming soon. I learned this song from Gretchen at a circle she was leading at Village Fire. On the last time through the chorus, you can change the word 'conceiving' to 'receiving', to help remind us of the need to listen and receive the new that is emerging in this time of reflection.
Chorus: Blessed be the winter chill, and the time of grieving.
Bless the turning toward the light, and the time of conceiving.
Verse 1: In the nest of solitude, dreams burn bright
And the darkness that is home as well feeds us through the night.
Verse 2: Are we midwives attending birth, or hospice for the dying?
In our brief time on this earth, a net of love we're tying.
Verse 3: Oh, the path we're on, we cannot know what it's bringing,
As we walk alone or hand-in-hand, we bless it with our singing.
A 4-part layer song by Katie Sontag of Eugene, OR. Hear more of her music at https://soundcloud.com/katiesontag!
Bone Crackin' Cold could have only been written by a true Minnesotan, and indeed it was. This three part grooving tune is by Barbara McAfee, first learned by me at a circle at Village Fire.
Dark by Barbara McAfee. Barbara loved this Wendell Berry poem for many years and carries it around in her memory. She wanted to create a song that made the darkness groovy while honoring every word of his poem.
Deep in my Heart, teaching version, by Lia Falls. Lia wanted to make a song that did not tell anyone how or what to feel. This song is dedicated to whatever lies deep in your heart.
This beautiful 4-part layer song came to Gretchen Sleicher of Port Townsend, WA at the Dosiwalips River in Washington.
A 4-part polyphonic round by Chandler Yorkhall, written on a bright, full moon night in 2000 at Oberlin College.
A round for spring set to part of the poem "Rising" by Wendell Berry. If anyone has any information about the composer of this tune, please be in touch.
The earth opened in the spring, opens in all springs
Nameless, ancient, many-lived we reach
Through the ages with the seed.
Flame, by Susie Ro Prater of Devon, UK, is a 4-part harmony song gathered during the time of her father, Nick Prater's, passing. This is only the first half of this epic 4 part anthem. Hear more of Susie's music here: https://www.susiero.com/
“I Am Me” by Paul Barton of Toronto started out as a personal mantra. Something to keep him going on a path of personal growth. One night he was driving home from Sing For Joy in Toronto and a melody came to fit with the words. Then, while sitting around the evening fire at Village Fire in Iowa, he was having an emotional experience that made him want to sing this mantra. Since he was at a song circle, it occurred to him that he could teach this song to everyone. He added a rough draft of the harmonies on the spot, to our great astonishment, and this became the first original song I taught to a group of people in the aural tradition. This recording features all three parts, layered one at a time, followed by full teaching tracks. Hear more of Paul's music at https://paulbarton.bandcamp.com/.
I Wish That I Could Show You by Barbara McAfee of Minneapolis takes its lyrics from Hafiz. She created a collage of that quote for each of her friends one holiday season and (wisely) made one for herself as well. It's been in her home office ever since. Many years later, Barbara's beloved nephew Travis was walking through a very hard time. As she considered what she most wanted to let him know, this quote arose. In the middle of a voice workshop she was co-leading with her teacher, Saule Ryan, Barbara stepped into the bathroom and found the melody. Travis was attending the workshop along with 11 others including Liz Rog. She called them over to the piano and they sang it together. It's become a favorite of the Twin Cities area comfort choir, The Morning Star Singers.
Jewels by Barbara McAfee of Minneapolis, grew out of a conversation she had with a voice coaching client many years ago. She was struggling to heal after a traumatic brain injury and thought singing would help her brain recover. It did. Meanwhile, on a particularly hard day, Barbara heard myself saying these words to her: "Every time I go into the darkness, I return with fistfuls of jewels." It didn't feel like her talking, but some larger and wiser being. She filed the line away in her memory. Then in a hot tub under the stars on the south shore of Lake Superior, it found a melody and a second line: "Midnight velvet wraps all around me; stars glitter brilliant above." The third line arose in a community song circle. This song baby has traveled far and wide and is a winter solstice favorite in many communities. To learn more about Barbara's prolific and inspiring work and music, visit barbaramcafee.com.
Lay your Worries Down by the brilliant Mikey Inderikey of Wales thought it was about time he had a better birthday song to sing. This continues to be a favorite in southwest Wisconsin!
With so many challenges and losses we face, this is a song to pull out of the pocket and remind us that every loss, indeed every moment, can be an opening to love. Gretchen Sleicher is a songwriter and songpasser who curates a collection of songs at www.songsforthegreatturning.net and leads gatherings that combine singing with practices from Joanna Macy's Work That Reconnects. She also coleads Songlines Community Choir with Laurence Cole in Port Townsend, WA.
May the Beauty is a lush 4-part harmony song by the epic song writer and community choir leader Nickomo of the U.K. Find more of his songs here. The song is based upon the following Coleman Barks translation of a Rumi poem:
Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down the dulcimer.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
Moonlight is a delicious 4-part layer song by Mark Growden, a musician, composer, and director of the Calling All Choir based in San Francisco. Find out about his work here: http://markgrowden.org/
Nero's Expedition is a polyphonic round by the composer, strange genius, and blind 6th Avenue Viking Moondog. Learn more about the fascinating life of Moondog here, and do take the time to listen to more of his incredible polyphonic music. In Nero's Expedition, we sing of Nero - the last Roman emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty - failing in his quest to conquer the Nile and Egypt due to a thick growth of swamp plants in one particular channel of the river - the Sudd of Nubia. His boat could not pass, and he had to turn the ship around. If you hear me missing the diminished minor chords at points in this recording (you will), you are welcome to make fun of me in choir. I learned this song from Vanessa Degrassi, Rosemary Minasian, and Matt Reyna who co-lead Murmurations Choir in New Orleans.
Nero's expedition of the Nile failed because the water hyacinth had clogged the river
denying Nero's vessel's passage through the Sudd of Nubia.
A favorite spring song celebrating the ever-magical and abundant Nettle, learned from Kelly Hogan in Portland, OR.
In the spring the nettles return, gifting love and fiery burn.
In the spring the nettles return, strong medicine to help us learn
Spring sting, pay attention, spring sting, slow down.
Now by Barbara McAfee is made up of the last lines of E.E. Cummings' great poem that begins, "I thank you god for most this amazing day." Barbara had the poem committed to memory for many years and has always loved the mystery of those final words, "now the ears of my ears awake. now the eyes of my eyes are open." She's not even sure what that means, but I feel the truth of it anyway.
An American Quaker round, and the official closing song of Resound Choir.
O, light abide with us, for it is now the evening, the day is passed and over.
Only in Silence, a round with words from Ursula K. Leguin from her Earth Sea trilogy. If anyone has information on how this melody came to be, please share with me!
Only in silence the word, only in dark the light
Only in dying life, bright the hawk's flight on the empty sky
Open My Heart is a beautiful three-part layer song by Ana Hernandez, composer, musician, and collaborator with Music that Makes Community.
This is an acapella version of the band Yeasayer's song Red Cave. The song was inspired by Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, a church in Wales that happens to have the longest name of any word in any language. The name roughly translates to: “Saint Mary’s Church in the hollow of the white hazel near the rapid whirlpool and the Church of Saint Tysilio of the red cave”. I originally learned this song from Ida Rotto around a campfire at the first ever Village Fire in 2013.
I went out past the willow and the well,
caught my breath upon the hill at the edge of the domain.
And I went down and further, and when I got up, I'm at the Red Cave,
And without sound as if I had been put under a spell,
she led me to her abode, despite a winter's day.
Mary's house in the hollow of the white hazel rapid whirpool
and the Church of Hurricane.
I'm so blessed to have spent the time with my family and the friends I love in this short life I have met so many people that I deeply care for.
Savole is a simple three part warm-up created by members of the Polish polyphonic vocal ensemble Laboratorium Piesni. The words are equivalent of English 'la la la'.
Simple Praise of Trees, by Gretchen Sleicher. An invitation to join the simple praise of trees, the melody of this simple layer song is a line of a poem that David Densmore wrote to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Winter. Try getting a group together to sing this, arms raised, while walking through a forest!. How blessed we are as humans to be able to join the trees in their simple praise of life!
Standing Stone is a stunning 3-part song by the inspiring Melanie Demore of Oakland. Learn more about her music and teaching here: http://www.melaniedemore.com/
This is an early version of the amazing MacKenzie Madrone Meyer's Storm of Change, an empowering 4-6 part layer song. MacKenzie lives in Nevada City, CA. Check out more of her stunning songs at https://mackenziemadrone.bandcamp.com/music!
Sun Come by Barbara McAfee of Minneapolis was composed on the Pacific coast of Mexico where she co-lead a singing and yoga retreat with Margie Weaver. The retreat center, Mar de Jade, is nestled in the lap of an extinct volcano and faces a gorgeous sand beach. The sun takes its time cresting that tall mountain, but when it does -- what a gift! One particularly stunning morning called this song out of Barbara's animal-happy body and grateful heart. To learn more about Barbara's prolific and inspiring work and music, visit barbaramcafee.com.
Sunflower by Sam Long of Western Mass, is a 4-part round for beginnings and courage. He wrote the song after his fiancée’s godmother and a spiritual guide to him was really sick. Her favorite flower is the sunflower and there was a large community that started posting pictures of sunflowers in a Facebook group for her. He was riding my bike home and the first line came to him. He'd written a few rounds before, but this one came out so quickly. Sam always introduces it as a song for healing. See Sam's musical projects at his site: http://www.samlongmusic.com/
Swaying Body by Te Martin, was born on a particularly sweaty bike trip. Original lyrics: "sweaty body, sweaty soul." Te is a song writer and sharer from the Bay Area.
This is Home, is a 4-part harmony song by Sophia Efthimiou of the southern UK. Both tender and grand, This is Home is favorite of many community choirs worldwide. I first learned this song from Kate Valentine in East Sussex.
Though My Soul, a beautiful 4-part round with words from a poem by Sara Williams, set to music by Joseph Haydn.
Unto this Land by Helen Yeomans of Devon, UK is a beautiful 4-part love song to the earth. Find more of Helen's wonderful compositions here:
We Are the Way by Christine Kick of St. Louis is a song born from a DIY building project. If you've ever undertaken a major building or rehab project, you may be familiar with the phenomena of the project taking way longer than you had originally anticipated. During this time, Christine had been trying to live in the construction zone, but eventually opted to live in her unfinished basement. She felt herself wanting to hide, feeling some shame for the amount of time the project was taking. People would ask if the house was finished and the answer was always no. While she was basking in the dungeon vibes of the basement, this song arrived. It served a a way to celebrate how far she'd come on the project and reminded her that the way to feeling how she wanted to feel is always through herself and her own actions and perspective.
We Need Peace, by Gretchen Sleicher of Port Townsend, WA, co leader of Songlines Community Choir and creator of songsforthegreatturning.net. The 3-part core of this song expresses yearning for peace, hope and love, and the two descants encourage us to turn toward each other, take action and let our grief flow, when things fall apart. In the descant "Cry with me, we will come together" you can replace "cry" with "sing" or "pray" to make it a zipper song.
Winter is a lively, widely loved round by John Krumm, a musician and composer based in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania. I learned this song from Liz Rog while living in Decorah, IA. Isn't it so wonderful to have such an upbeat song about winter to sing! To explore more of John's music, visit https://www.johnkrumm.com/.
When the winter comes we gather to dance and sing together,
When the winter comes we gather to dance our cares away!
Everybody clap hands, everybody sing now,
Sing a song of gladness, sing a song of joy!
Winter, cold winter, blows hard against my window pane
Dance round the fire 'till springtime comes again!