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Musically Speaking – April 14th, 2023

Apr 14, 2023

Resistance Through Music

This topic makes me excited looking backward, looking at now, and going forward.  Social movements and resistance have always been propelled with music.  Think of spirituals created and sung by the enslaved people on plantations….their songs and the way they sang literally kept them alive.  The same can be said for those incarcerated working on chain gangs.  There is the Civil Rights movement with so many great artists creating such monumental music that it is a style unto itself.  I hear artists such as David Bryne (of Talking Heads) doing the concert, American Utopia, a few years back.  Every song is filled with multi-cultural influences and performers that made his message inclusive and personal to all who listen.  Then there is music for Black Lives Matter.  Clearly, I name only a few examples.

When The Reverend Dr. William Barber of the Poor People’s Movement and Moral Mondays hosts rallies and protests, he brings a specific singer with him to lead when his words have concluded.  She led a session of UU music directors and was one of the more forceful musicians and song leaders I have ever seen. 

When Martin Luther King, Jr. found his spirits needed a lift, he would phone Mahalia Jackson and ask her to sing the Tommy Dorsey gospel song, “Precious Lord.”  Music kept him centered and focused as he looked toward the world he envisioned. 

Last week, our choir sang the Nick Page choral anthem, “Say Amen, Somebody.”  “No, you don’t need permission to say Amen..”  These words help us change the culture of our services when we, the congregation, are silent.  This piece reminds us to respond, to be involved, to let others know you are there, and to hear others affirming their presence and inherent worth.  It is a piece of resistance, to be sure!

What such music does is to transform individuals into a community, and communities are known to change the course of history when it needs to be changed.  Music brings us together with solidarity, music keeps our spirits alive through difficult times, individually and collectively.  Music keeps us hopeful and it affirms us as our best selves.

Music at First Parish for April:

The April 16th service will include a guest musician, Beth Welty, playing her violin.  Her music will include “Ashokan Farewell”.

On April 18th, the Vespers service will include musicians: Jean Gauthier, John Buchanan, Carole Berney, Nick Woebcke, and Charlyn and Guy. 

For the April 30th service, Carole Berney will be the pianist for the service, as Guy and I will be  away.  Expect some jazz!

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