It's been said by an anonymous, yet obviously poetic soul, that "Music is what feelings sound like." And no less a figure than Friedrich Nietzsche pronounced, “Without music life would be a mistake.”
Certainly it would be hard to imagine a Unitarian Universalist (UU) worship service without music as being anything but a mistake. Music is such an integral part of our worship culture—whether that music be European classical or African American blues.
The Unitarian Universalist Musicians’ Network (UUMN) maintains the UUMN Index of Music for Themed Worship, a database of music compatible with dozens of specific worship themes, from “Gratitude” to “Grace,” “Transcendence” to “Transformation.”
The Unitarian Universalist Association has published two hymnals: Singing the Living Tradition and Singing the Journey. Additionally, the book Between the Linesprovides background information about the songs and readings found in Singing the Living Tradition, and the Singing the Journey website has a wealth of information about that book. Some congregations like using the multigenerational songbook Come, Sing a Song With Methat includes twenty-five of the most popular and accessible songs from the two hymnals in an easy to use format.
Additionally, there are other songbooks and hymnals that are in use in many of our congregations, each with its own particular usefulness.
The First Unitarian Church in Oakland has recorded three CDs of music from our hymnals—Bring Many Names, Music in the Air, and Wake, Now My Senses—for congregations, and individuals, that want to listen to the music from the hymnals. Journey Songs is the new CD produced by the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville which contains fifteen hymns from Singing the Journey, and Jason Shelton's CD The Fire of Commitmentalso contains several songs found in Singing the Journey. The Orange Coast Unitarian Universalist Church (Costa Mesa, CA) created a CD with family-friendly music from Singing the Living Tradition, Singing the Journey, and May This Light Shine, called Family ValUUes. It is available in CD form from the Orange Coast UU Church, or via digital download from iTunes or Amazon.com.
Often people ask if there is a CD of just accompaniment and, to date, there is no comprehensive CD of all of the hymns in the two hymnals. However, MP3 files of all of the songs in Singing the Journey (STJ) can be found at the STJ website, and some of our congregations have created CDs of accompaniment for the public domain hymns in Singing the Living Tradition. (Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.)
The Abraham Lincoln Unitarian Universalist Church in Springfield, IL has recorded two CDs of piano accompaniment (including an introduction and all verses) to hymns from Singing the Living Tradition. One contains thirty "favorite" hymns, and the other is a collection of Christmas holiday hymns. Contact the Abraham Lincoln Unitarian Universalist Church or UniUniques for purchase information.
The Church of the Larger Fellowship has numerous links to resources that can help smaller congregations and fellowships, including many that are provided by the Unitarian Universalist Musicians Network (UUMN). The mission of the UUMN is to "nurture, educate, and inspire UU music leaders to create dynamic and transformative music ministries" everywhere from our largest multi-staff congregations to our smallest lay-led fellowships. Contact the UUMN (email@example.com) to see what they can do for your congregation.
Over the years the Unitarian Universalist Association's publication InterConnections has also published many articles having to do with music and music programs in congregations. For your convenience we have brought together in one place a compilation.
Marlin Lavanhar's manual Soulful Sundown describes how to begin offering these alternative, music heavy worship services that many of our congregations have found quite invigorating.
Insights and Instructions: a collection of essays and articles with information on everything from how to read the rhythms in the hymnal supplement, to how to be an effective songleader for your congregation, to ways to think about the ministry of the music director.
And if you want to explore new music by Unitarian Universalist composers, explore the UUMN Composers Database.
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Last updated on Tuesday, November 12, 2013.
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