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.

Music Update

There has been a lot of music happening at the UUFC since the beginning of Covid. After almost two years of the choir being on hiatus due to the pandemic, we are so happy to have them back with us. Last spring they started meeting just to sing hymns, wearing masks and sitting far apart. It was a tough time, but they were so excited to be singing together. 

Last summer they made their first appearance after almost two years of not singing in services at all. They were small but mighty, and now they’re nearly as big as before, and are continuing to grow. We are so glad to have Stephen Evans-Renterria leading the choir. He has been doing an incredible job and brings a lot of enthusiasm to our services. If you are interested in singing in choir, talk to Steven about joining. He’ll be the one waving his arms in front of the choir when they sing. 

David Servias has stepped away from being the regular choir director to help in other areas like technology and the website, but is still overseeing our music program. You will see him at the piano with the band. That’s right, we have a band now! We tried putting together a band to lead hymns for the first time last Spring, and we had so much fun that we’ve been doing it ever since about once a month. Steve Strauss (guitar), George Beekman (percussion), and Gary Barnes (singer) have been part of this group since the beginning. Julie Harter (guitar) and Matt Matthews (guitarrón – ask him to show it to you!) joined us for the first time on Christmas Eve, and Priscilla Galasso sang with us for the first time in February. We only rehearse the morning of, so it’s very exciting and we have a great time. If you play guitar, bass, percussion, or sing, and you enjoy flying by the seat of your pants, talk to David. 

We did say goodbye to one of our members, Lynn Scott, who moved to Scotland this month. Lynn helped us through the pandemic when we were only doing outdoor services, with less than 30 people and she led the songs. We are so grateful for the music she brought to our services, and we wish her the best in her new adventures. 

We’ve had some great guest musicians since we’ve come back to in person services, including Johanna Beekman, Compass Rose, and Roy Zimmerman. But the most important part of our music program is all of you who come together on Sunday morning to join in the singing, clapping, and dancing. We are so excited to have everyone back together making music!