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April 2019 Family Ministry by Kathy E. Smith

Blog category: 

Singing Our Faith

Words to Live By

In a house which becomes a home, one hands down and another takes up the heritage of mind and heart, laughter and tears, musings and deeds … words from Antoine du St. Exupery, #649 in Singing the Living Tradition

When I was first introduced to Unitarian Universalism, one of the first things I did was thumb through a hymnal.  After all, you can tell a lot about a group of people by what they choose to sing. (Almost as much as you can tell by what they find funny, but that’s another article.)  Reading through the hymnal was one of the ways I knew I’d found a home for my family.  Singing our UU music with our children when they are young is a great way to help them remember and embody the values of our faith. (The beautiful thing is, it works for grown-ups, too.) Look at some of the songs from our recent Family Fun Sing, like this one to the tune of “He’s Got the Whole World”: 

I’m a UU, gonna reach up high, gonna dig down deep where all the meanings lie.
I’m a UU, gonna reach out wide and embrace the whole wide world

Bingo!  Our dual heritage: the search for truth and meaning coupled with love for all the world.  No elevator speech could say who we are more clearly. 

Or this song, which can be used as a body prayer to center and focus: 

Gathered here in the myst’ry of the hour
Gathered here in one strong body
Gathered here in the struggle and the power
Spirit, draw near.

Some songs are perfect for singing together to calm ourselves, or to wind down for sleep. 

When I breathe in, I breathe in peace
When I breathe out, I breathe out love.

Spirit of life, come unto me
Sing in my heart all the stirrings of compassion
Blow in the wind, rise in the sea
Move in the hand, giving life the shape of justice
Roots hold me close, wings set me free
Spirit of life, come to me, come to me

Others make wonderful graces, whether spoken or sung:

We give thanks for this precious day, for those gathered here and those far away
For this time we share with love and care, we give thanks for this precious day
From you I receive, and to you I give
Together we share, and by this we live

Some folks I know have made a deliberate attempt to memorize some of our hymns, so that they can call them up whenever they need to hear them.  For children and adults alike, this practice of memorization and repetition helps us internalize the words of our faith tradition, to more clearly embody who we are as a people and as individuals.  What UU music would you memorize to incorporate into your life? 

These hymns are (in order) Nos. 389, 1009, 123, 1010, and 402, from Singing the Living Tradition and Singing the Journey.