This morning’s service began with, “I Will Remember You”, which was composed and originally performed by Sarah McLachlan. This prelude was dedicated to and in memory of long-time UUFC member Bob Ozretich, who passed away yesterday.
This weekend we honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose peaceful work toward social justice and equality was pivotal in our country’s history. Today’s music for meditation represents a different era, the American Civil War, which undeniably parallels the American civil rights movement in the struggle against racism, the battle against ignorance and prejudice, and the crusade for the recognition of the inherent worth and dignity of every person regardless of their skin color.
It’s simple and folky melody leads audiences to believe that this song hails from the 1800s, but “Ashokan Farewell was composed in the 1980s and then made famous in Ken Burns’s 1990 PBS documentary “The Civil War”. Composer Jay Unger wrote “Ashokan Farewell” with a Scottish lament in mind, and the piece first served as a goodnight or farewell waltz at the annual Ashokan Fiddle & Dance Camps, which Unger ran with his wife, musician Molly Mason. The simple tune evokes feelings of longing, melancholy, and uplifting hope, all appropriate when thinking of where we once stood in terms of race relations, but how there is still much work to be done.
I originally wanted to play a majestic solo piano rendition of “We Shall Overcome” for today’s postlude, but as it often happens, felt inspired by Jill’s sermon to end the service with something different. The action of turning was so vital in today’s sermon. Just to name a few examples:
- If we turn to a life that is more than ourselves, we will find there is enough courage to do what must be done.
- The willingness to be turned is what faithfulness is made of.
- Turning points are crucial points in which we decided was we want our world to be.
Turning can mean changing our minds about something, it can mean reflection upon something that lies behind us, and it can mean embracing new purpose and change in ourselves and the world around us. I decided to play “Turn! Turn! Turn”, and leaned more towards the rendition by The Byrds; Pete Seeger’s original recording is a revelation, while the more upbeat and percussive recording by The Byrds seems more like a call to action. But in the end, the message is the same: For everything there is a season, turn, turn, turn, and a time for every purpose under heaven.