Welcome back to First Parish Watertown!  I am so very happy to see you at our Zoom worship services.  Guy and I, along with Wendy, Lauren, and Allison have become a tight collaborative unit for creating online worship.   I am also excited that we are continuing to do what we know works along with finding ways to change things up.  I am feeling genuinely excited and open.  

Music this year will include creative ways to do preludes, meditations, and hymns.  We will have a hymn of the month that will enable us to really know it well.  Each week, there will be an additional hymn that we will prepare weekly.  Two things are different:  1)  I will introduce each hymn with background information on everything we are singing.  2)  Much of the music we will do this year will be focused on Black Lives Matter or BLM.  That means to me that I will choose hymns that will fit our monthly themes (this month is Renewal) and that reflect the African American and African traditions.  I will include music to reflect other cultures as well, hoping to embrace ethnic and multicultural music in general.  There will be our traditional favorites, too.  Do let me hear from you if there is some music you would like us to consider.  I am grateful that Beverly reached out and suggested Lift Every Voice and Sing.  Just now, that song is being embraced by BLM, as it should be.  

Experiencing world music is a way for us to bring our attention to the thoughts, the language, the art, and the actions of how other cultures give meaning to their lives.  We may gain insights that will help us as we emerge out of the pandemic and into a brand new world.  From an Afrocentric world view, here are a few values and assumptions from a Singing in the African American Tradition by Ysaye M. Barnwell:

“If you can talk, you can sing.  If you can walk, you can dance.”  OR:  “all can and will DO”. 

Music is not an art for art’s sake but rather a tool for navigating the activities of daily living and as a coping mechanism for constant spiritualism.

There is a continuum for Afrocentric communities:  Past—Present—Future.  Also:  Ancestors—The Living—The Unborn.  Music helps daily life have an organization and make sense.

Music is a metaphor for creating political and social gains.  Diversity becomes a necessity.  Great value is placed on varied contributions by all.  

People must agree to cooperate and not compete with each other to make all the moving parts fit together.  Music is a communal celebration;  everyone shares equally.

There is a respect we all have for each other.  We remain open to the creative process that exists in all of us.  We respect the boundaries of individuals and applaud each contribution to the common music that becomes greater than the sum of its parts.

The music we will experience this year will be varied.   Guy and I will include comfort and joy along the way.  Welcome back, Welcome back!!!

Stay tuned!

Charlyn Bethell
Music Director | + posts

Charlyn’s professional training has followed two paths: as a professional oboist and as a music teacher and conductor. As Music Director at First Parish, she joins these two paths of her musical life, conducting the choir, coordinating guest musicians, and performing on oboe.