Musical Notes 2
by Steve Finner
The observation has been made a number of times regarding the UUA, that if Unitarianism represents the head, Universalism represents the heart of our faith. And since music speaks to the heart, how wonderful it is for Universalism that the Unitarian Universalist Musicians Network is now more than twenty years old. Because of UUMN, we now have access to thousands of compositions by hundreds of UU composers as seen in Singing The Living Tradition and Singing the Journey, to name the two most obvious sources. In addition, major music publishers carry pieces by UU composers and hundreds more "self-publish".
Now comes the latest source published by the UUMN itself. "May This Light Shine: A Songbook for Children and Youth" is collection of thirty songs for almost every element of a worship service and may be used in a variety of other settings. Don't be fooled by the title. While the purpose of the publication is to fill a definite void in the area of UU children's music, many of these pieces can also be sung by adult choirs and congregations, and many are especially suitable for small congregations and can be sung without accompaniment (acapella). Most are unison or single voice. A few have simple harmonies and with some it is possible for a skilled conductor to add in ad lib harmonies for more skilled choirs. The notation includes chord identifications to enable accompaniment by a guitar or other instrument.
There are chalice lightings, welcome songs, chants and benedictions. There are songs that of celebration and songs of contemplation. . Many of the contributors are names already known by many UU's such as Tom Benjamin, Shelley Jackson Denham, Nick Page, Joyce Poley and Jim Scott. Others are by lesser known UU composers (including yours truly), but all are accessible and relatively easy to teach and learn.
The volume comes in two versions. There is an 8.5 by 11 inch director/accompanist version that contains the pieces, and in addition performance notes and suggestions prepared by the contributors as well as contact information for them. There is a smaller sized version for singers, measuring 6 by 9 inches, which is easy for younger singers to hold. Both versions are spiral bound making is easier to turn pages and lay flat.
Preceeding each selection is a delightful pen and ink drawing by a child or teenager.
"May This Light Shine: A Songbook for Children and Youth" ordering information can be obtained at
Stephen L. Finner, Director of Music, St. Johnsbury, Vermont Universalist Unitarian Church