Behind the Music: To everything there is a season

A heartfelt farewell took place today as the Fellowship gathered to say bid adieu to some of our beloved trees which have graced the grounds for generations. The three solo piano works played were selected for their messages of gratitude, closure, and acceptance.

Today’s prelude was Ombra Mai Fu, a well-loved classic from Handel’s opera Serse. Serse, the king of Persia, sings this aria at the opera’s beginning to express his thanks and admiration for a plane tree and the shade it provides. Our feelings for the UUFC trees are mirrored in this aria’s lyrics:

Tender and beautiful fronds
of my beloved plane tree,
let Fate smile upon you.
May thunder, lightning, and storms
never disturb your dear peace,
nor may you by blowing winds be profaned.

Never was a shade
of any plant
dearer and more lovely,
or more sweet.

The anthem “Time to Say Goodbye” seemed appropriate for an offertory following the honoring of the trees. This powerful anthem, made famous by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman, encourages us to embrace life’s inevitable changes with courage and grace. With tomorrow’s cutting of the trees, this work is also a gentle reminder that while farewells can be bittersweet, they also pave the way for new beginnings.

As the service drew to a close, we adjourned to the timeless tune of “Turn, Turn, Turn” by The Byrds. This adaptation of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 beautifully illustrates life’s ever-changing rhythms, urging us to find peace and acceptance in the ebb and flow of existence. The song’s poetic verses remind us that there is “a time to plant, a time to reap, a time to gain, a time to lose.” We have celebrated and said goodbye to the trees…let us now celebrate the new birth of plants, flowers, and trees that will begin their time with us.

~ Lauren Servias

Behind the Music: Lovely sky and sea; well, it used to be.

The earth has been a subject of inspiration for composers across the world for centuries; each of the musical compositions below were used for today’s service with this Sunday’s theme in mind: building relationships through care for our earth.

The choir’s first anthem, “Emerald Stream” (by Seth Houston) is a rollicking tune reminiscent of a sea shanty or drinking song, but while toe-tapping and moving to the beat, careful listeners will have caught the warning the song offers: 

So, now, my people beware,

You’re in charge of the seas and the earth and the air,

You’d better take extr-odinary care

Of the earth, our only home.

 “Earth Song”, the choir’s second anthem, originally started as an instrumental work, but Frank Ticheli stated “this music is just begging to be sung by a chorus”.  “Earth Song” beseeches the world for kindness and peace, while praising the healing power of music and song.

Sing, Be, Live, See…the scorched earth cries out in vain.

Today’s offertory “Look Around” hails from the 1991 musical The Will Rodgers Follies.  Alone, the music of “Look Around” is lovely and poignant, but only when the song lyrics are known is the sadness of this beautiful song understood.

Look around, the world’s a lovely place, lovely sky and sea; well, it used to be.

Look around, the world is shining bright, watch the green grass grow; well, that once was so.

Where’s the spring that loved the rain?

Where’s the grove down Lover’s Lane?

Look around, they vanish overnight

Where’s the lovely world we used to see.

And finally, Joni Mitchell’s beloved “Big Yellow Taxi” reminds us of the consequences of our actions on the environment and the need to take responsibility for protecting our planet.

Today’s service will hopefully inspire us to take action to care for our planet and build stronger relationships with each other and the earth. We can reflect on the importance of preserving our natural resources, taking responsibility for our actions, and fostering appreciation for the beauty and diversity of the world around us. By doing so, we can build a more just, sustainable, and compassionate world for all.