Mary Alice and I have been singing Alouette Iselin’s “Solstice Song” for thirty years or so. Alouette is a New Hampshire-based therapist and singer and songwriter. I was always thrilled when she led a song at our pre-pandemic monthly Brattleboro pub sings with her sweet and pure soprano voice and her always interesting and beautiful songs. Her “Solstice Song” is the perfect marriage of poetry and music: “Let me come in and share your light, for I’m without a friend tonight; let me come in and share your light, and a warm place by your fire.” Here are a few renditions of her song.
O Mary, Where Is Your Baby – a Christmas spiritual from Louisiana
In 1980 Mary Alice and I purchased “The Second Penguin Book of Christmas Carols”, a small paperback edited by Elizabeth Poston which includes a number of traditional American gems. This is where we learned “Watts Cradle Hymn
” and it includes Elizabeth Poston’s sublime “Jesus Christ the Apple Tree”
which our little Guilford Community Church Choir often sings.
We have a tradition at our Guilford Community Church UCC of arranging and composing songs as needed for our services. Here are seven of the musical settings of scripture Mary Alice and I have composed for the Guilford Community Church Choir. The first setting is by Mary Alice; the others are mine.
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When the Lord brought back the captivity of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing. Then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad. Bring back our captivity, O Lord, as the streams in the South. Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves.
Here are some of our Guilford Community Church Choir favorite anthems for Advent and Christmas:
Watts Cradle Hymn
words by Isaac Watts – traditional American tune “RESTORATION”
Simple SATB harmonization with an easy piano part. We sing this in our Christmas Pageant when Mary comes out with baby Jesus.
Here are two winter songs for children that Mary Alice and I have sung for a long time that I turned into simple choral arrangements that are now available on our online choral sheet music download library/store. Both include guitar chords and composed piano accompaniment.
Stopping by the Woods
by Robert Frost, music by Peter Amidon
You are invited to join Mary Alice and me tomorrow (Sunday September 19), at 12:00 noon ET at the online Daily Antitode of Song
. Mary Alice and I (and maybe our grandson Desmond) will be leading Scottish harper Wendy Stewart’s “Waltzing Through Time
“Waltzing Through Time
” is one of the new offerings on our online library/store of our choral arrangements. I also recently put up my arrangement of the African American spiritual “Give Me Jesus
“, and my arrangement of Peter Mayer’s “Blue Boat Home
I am on the “Relaunch Committee” of the Guilford (VT) Community Church UCC, where we are figuring out a safe way to return to having indoor services in our church sanctuary.
The Short Story
The Hebrew poem “Eli, Eli” was written by Hannah Szenes in 1942, and was set to music by David Zehavi in 1945. I sang it with the Brattleboro Music Center Children’s Choir in 1991, and arranged it for piano/SATB in 2010.
The Longer Story
When I was a local public school music teacher in the 1980’s it struck me that there were always one or two or three children in each class who stood out with their beautiful in-tune singing. How wonderful, I thought, if I could gather them all into one singing group. Also, I was interested in creating an enriching singing experience for Mary Alice’s and my two young boys Sam and Stefan.
August 26, 2021
Bright Morning Stars
The Short Story
I arranged this traditional Appalachian spiritual for the Guilford (VT) Community Church UCC Choir in 2006.
I met Mary Alice at the weekly Tuesday evening contra dance held at the YWCA in Cambridge Massachusetts’ Central Square in September 1975. I had been a viola da gambist, studying with the Boston early music group Quadrivium Collegium when I was introduced to the rich Cambridge folk music and dance scene just the year before in 1974 and I was hooked.
August 18, 2021
“The Silver Rain”, words by Alice Henderson, music by Marianne Zimmerman. I wrote an a cappella SATB harmonization of this after Mary Alice and I learned it from Harry and Edith Barron who had learned it while living in the Bruderhof Community.
The Bruderhof was a pacifist spiritual community founded in Germany in 1920. The rise of the Nazis forced the Bruderhof community to flee Germany to the Cotswolds of England where they were joined by English concientious objectors. By 1936 there were over 350 members of the Bruderhof, speaking and singing in German and English. This is when our English friends Harry and Edith Barron joined the Bruderhof.