Singing, For the Joy of It

One of my assistants likes to sing hymns in twi.  She’s originally from Ghana, and that is one of the five languages she knows. Sometimes my aunt will hum along with the melody, and my assistant will translate for me. I asked her recently if she was in her church choir. Unfortunately she is not; her schedule doesn’t allow it. “I just love to sing,” she says. “I always have.”

When I was growing up, I liked singing hymns, and I remember my aunt singing all the time–with the radio and without, and just about anything. As my mom and all her siblings were growing up, they sang together as well–as entertainment in the evenings. This was in the days before television, and some people didn’t have radios.

Music and singing bring out a range of emotions; mostly, I think, music is here to make people happy,so that they can bring that joy and enthusiasm to others. My aunt always says that it would be a very dull world without it.

These conversations and memories made me think of  “How Can I Keep From Singing?” Here’s Pete Seeger‘s version:

My life flows on in endless song
Above earth’s lamentation.

I hear the real, though far off hymn
That hails the new creation

No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that rock I’m clinging.
It sounds an echo in my soul
How can I keep from singing?

What though the tempest round me roars
I know the truth it liveth
What though the darkness round me close
Songs in the night it giveth

No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that rock I’m clinging.
Since love is lord of Heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?

When tyrants tremble, sick with fear,
And hear their death-knell ringing,
When friends rejoice both far and near,
How can I keep from singing?

In prison cell and dungeon vile
Our thoughts to them are winging.
When friends by shame are undefiled,
How can I keep from singing?

Copyright: Figs. D Music Inc. O.B.O. Sanga Music, Figs. D Music Inc.

I’m also remembering the saying, “He who sings, prays twice.” Here is its interesting history.

Image result for free clipart sing

Rule, Britannia!

I am tired of “Rule, Britannia” only representing a crossword puzzle clue for me, so I decided to look it up and find out more about the song, the melody, the history, etc.

Here is a link to the James Thomson poem and the Thomas Arne 1740 musical composition.

This is the version associated with the Royal Navy:

A Welsh Carol — Parti Fronheulog: Carol Plygain: ‘Ar Gyfer Heddiw’r Bore’

A friend shared this Welsh carol with me. Although I don’t know the language, I still felt it was very pretty. The song is new to me. Many thanks to the person who posted it originally!

I also learned something about YouTube’s “Show More” tab, where the lyrics were posted.



For this day’s morning, as a little babe, as a little babe,
Was born the root of Jesse, as a little babe;
The Strong One from Bosra,
The Lawgiver on Sinai,
The Just One on Calvary, as a little babe, as a little babe,
Suckling on Mary’s breast, as a little babe.
The living water of Ezechiel on Mary’s knee, on Mary’s knee,

And Daniel’s true Messiah, on Mary’s knee;
The wise boy of Isaiah,
The promise made to Adam,
The Alpha and Omega, on Mary’s knee, on Mary’s knee,
In a stable in Bethlehem of Juda, on Mary’s knee.

Christ took off his crown, so he willed, so he willed,
To place a crown on Sion, so he willed;
To bow his kingly head,
To wear a crown of thorns,
To face ferocious mocking, so he willed, so he willed,
To lift up the guilty head, so he willed.

So now, you sinner hasten, as you are, as you are,
To ask for the sanctuary, as you are;
To you a fount now opens,
To wash your wounds of darkness
Like whitened snow in Salmon, as you are, as you are,
Come therefore in good time, as you are.

About the plygain tradition:…

‘Ar Gyfer Heddiw’r Bore’, a sacred song from 19th century Wales, is quite unlike the Christmas carols we know in English but it has a vivid grandeur all its own. I regret that this translation is not capable of being sung to the original melody and is provided simply to give some idea of what it is all about.

An carúl seo sa Ghaeilge: This carol in Irish: Y carol hwn yn y Wyddeleg:…

This version in Irish is my own and as far as I can see it scans and rhymes in such a way as to be singable in Irish using the same tune as the original version sung on this video. Bain triail as! Give it a go! Rhowch gynnig arno!



I first heard this song on NPR’s “Tiny Desk Concerts” a while back, and I shared it with others. They agreed with me that it was very pretty. Scala is a Belgian all-female rock chorus. Something about “Seashell” (from 2008) just caught my ear. I had never heard it before. They have since performed and recorded other music. A memory:

We visited Virginia Beach when I was eight. Even though it was hard to get me there, my aunt took me to the water’s edge, to feel the tide coming in and out, and the beach blanket getting muddy. Later that same day, a wave knocked me over (I can still taste the salt.) and a surfer accidentally hit me in the leg with the surfboard as he rode the wave in. I wasn’t hurt. The guy apologized, but I was rather glad it happened. I had never seen a surfboard up close. It seemed huge. I collected shells at the time, and, to my way of thinking, it seemed only right to send two that I had brought with me and release them back to their home.

Anyway, here are the lyrics and the NPR video on March 2011, and links to stories about the group. Enjoy!


Take my hand and come walk with me
down towards the enchanting sea.
I’ll run laughing across the sand.
You’ll just smile ’cause you understand.

Watch the sun kiss the rising sea,
trembling sparkles of ecstasy.
Waves break, simmer, and then renew,
just as sometimes a heart can do.

I walked the full length of the beach until
I found the most beautiful seashell.

Fragments of all the things you’ve said
smi_le tenderly in my head.
Beaming sun is still trying to
burn the way that I burn for you.

Feel the waves as they fall and rise.
Breathe in deeply and close my eyes.
Let me not ever wake from this
precious moment of perfect bliss.

I walked the full length of the beach until
I found the most beautiful seashell.

Stay here with me
down by the sea.

For the others there on that beach
ou_r heaven was out of reach.
They heard only the dolphins’ cries.
We heard music and angels’ sighs.

We gazed out to the horizon,
sea and sky melting into one.
Whispered line where the blue meets blue.
Just as vague as where I meet you.

In the wake of that golden day
mem(o)ries still take my breath away.
I touched heaven when you touched me
down beside the enchanting sea.

I walked the full length of the beach until
I found the most beautiful seashell, for me.

Sunset glows.
Come with me.
One last race
to the sea.

Something for National Coffee Day

In passing, I found out that today is National Coffee Day, so I wanted to commemorate it quickly. I drink it every day, and have drunk far too much of it lately. Water’s the best.

Anyway, it made me think of Bach’s Coffee Cantata, which I haven’t listened to in years. I looked up a translation, and discovered there are many–some more serious than others.

Here are performances in English and German:   

The Wind and Rain

With Hurricane Irene bearing down on all the Eastern Seaboard today and tomorrow (Stay safe everyone!), this song kept running through my head. I first learned it in college, when my interest in Shakespeare exploded. “The Wind and the Rain” is featured in King Lear, Twelfth Night, and other plays–depending on how the director wants to feature music in the productions.

Here are the words:

Wind and Rain
Attributed to William Shakespeare

When that I was and a little tiny boy,
With heigh-ho, the wind and the rain,
A foolish thing was but a toy,
For the rain it raineth every day.


With heigh-ho, the wind and the rain,
For the rain it raineth every day.

But when I came to man’s estate,
‘Gainst knaves and thieves men shut their gate.


But when I came alas to wive,
By swaggering could I never thrive.


But when I came unto my beds,
The toss-pots still had drunken heads.


A great while ago, the world began,
With heigh-ho, the wind and the rain,
But that’s all one, our song is done,
And we’ll strive to please you every day.

This also gave me a new opportunity to learn about another English singer, Alfred Deller, who performs the above. Here he is performing “Greensleeves”:

Nada te turbe

A friend of mine and I were talking the other night, and he shared this prayer set to music.

“Here is a link to a YouTube video of the song “Nada te turbe” (Let Nothing Disturb You) performed by the Taize Community. The song is accompanied by video of the community at prayer. The original poem is ascribed to St. Teresa of Avila, (1515-1582) a Spanish nun and great contemplative:


He also included translations:

Here are the Spanish lyrics:

Music: J. Berthier Text: St. Teresa de Ávila

Solo verses:

Todo se pasa, Dios no se muda,

La paciencia todo lo alcanza.

En Cristo mi confianza,

y de Él solo mi asimiento;

en sus cansancios mi aliento,

y en su imitación mi holganza.

Aquí estriba mi firmeza,

aquí mi seguridad,

la prueba de mi verdad,

la muestra de mi firmeza.


Ya no durmáis, no durmáis,

pues que no hay paz en la tierra.


No haya ningún cobarde,

aventuremos la vida.

No hay que temer, no durmáis,

aventuremos la vida.


Photos from


And a couple of English translations:

rough translation made by the composer

Let nothing disturb you,

nothing surprise you,

all things pass;

God does not change.

Patience wins everything;

whoever holds onto God

lacks nothing;

God alone is enough.

a more poetic & old-fashioned translation by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

Let nothing disturb thee,

Nothing affright thee;

All things are passing;

God never changeth;

Patient endurance

Attaineth to all things;

Who God possesseth

In nothing is wanting;

Alone God sufficeth.

Hope you enjoy it. It seems a particularly appropriate text to keep in mind these days, both for ourselves as individuals and for the world at large.


A Seasonal Favorite: Handel’s Messiah

I hope that Sandy and Ken Hedgecock, producer and hostess, respectively, of the podcast Classical Music Discoveries, will not mind my including text from their newsletter today:

Please click the link below to view it.

This week we are very proud to present to our listeners the Southwest Symphony Orchestra and Chorale, conducted by Gary Caldwell, as they perform selections from Handel’s Messiah.

Performed selections are:

Overture – Orchestra

Comfort Ye My People – Kelton Brooks, tenor

Ev’ry Valley Shall Be Exalted – Kelton Brooks, tenor

And the Glory of the Lord – Chorale

Thus Saith the Lord – Jacob Pohlsander, bass

But Who May Abide the Day of His Coming – Jacob Pohlsander, bass

Behold, a Virgin Shall Conceive – Joslyn Cook, mezzo

O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings to Zion – Joslyn Cook, mezzo

For Behold, Darkness Shall Cover the Earth – Rick Pickett, bass

The People That Walked in Darkness – Rick Pickett, bass

For Unto Us a Child is Born – chorale

Pastoral Symphony – orchestra

There Were Shepherds Abiding in the Field – Cynthia Coombs, soprano

And Lo, the Angel of the Lord – Cynthia Coombs, soprano

And the Angel Said Unto Them – Cynthia Coombs, soprano

And Suddenly There Was with the Angel – Cynthia Coombs, soprano

Glory to God – chorale

Rejoice Greatly, O Daughter of Zion – Jenny Smith, soprano

Then Shall the Eyes of the Blind – Chelsie Pendleton, alto

He Shall Feed His Flock – Chelsie Pendleton, alto

Come Unto Him – Celia Gonzales, soprano

His Yoke is Easy and His Burden is Light – chorale

Behold the Lamb of God – chorale

He Was Despised – Lisa Szymanski, mezzo

Surely He Hath Borne Our Griefs -chorale

All We Like Sheep Have Gone Astray – chorale

Thy Rebuke Hath Broken His Heart – Nic Chamberlain, tenor

Behold and See If There Be Any Sorrow – Nic Chamberlain, tenor

Lift Up Your Heads, O Ye Gates – chorale

Why Do the Nations? – John Scott, baritone

Hallelujah – chorale, soloists and audience

I Know That My Redeemer Liveth – Stephanie Lister, soprano

Since By Man Came Death – chorale

Behold, I Tell You a Mystery – John Scott, baritone

The Trumpet Shall Sound – John Scott, baritone; Amy Paterson, trumpet

Worthy is the Lamb That Was Slain/Amen – chorale and soloists

Recording/Mixing – Ken Hedgecock

Show Hostess – Sandy Hedgecock

Show sponsor – Hinton-Burdick

(c)Classical Music Discoveries 2010


I enjoy listening to Handel’s Messiah every Christmas, and I wanted to write down a list of titles being performed in the show.

I love hearing the Hallelujah Chorus. Tradition says Queen Elizabeth I was so moved by it that she stood up through its performance. Everyone else in the audience followed suit. Today’s audiences still keep it up.