Sa Amba Sahda Shiva – Sanskrit Chant

Shiva is a Hindu God, destroyer who ends the cycle of time which, in turn, begins a new Creation. At the highest level, Lord Shiva is regarded as limitless, formless,transcendent, and unchanging. This chant reminds us that Shiva (the energy of destruction and regeneration) is always accompanied by the eternal Mother of the Universe.

Lyrics:

Sa Amba Sada Shiva
Sa Amba Shiva Om
Sa Amba Sada Shiva
Sa Amba Shiva Om

Om Mata, Om Mata
Om shri Mata Jagadumba
Om Mata, Om Mata
Om shri Mata Jagadumba

Translation:

The ever auspicious Lord Shiva is one with the Divine Mother
Oh Mother, Oh Mother
Radiant Mother, Mother of the Universe

Music composer unknown

La Mar Estaba Serena — A Folk Tune

I learned this sweet tune from a woman in our choir, Erika Dominguez. Singing it in a round is a bit tricky, as the last line creates some dissonance. It’s also quite lovely to just sing it as is, in unison together. Enjoy!

Lyrics:
La mar estaba serena
Serena estaba la mar (repeat)

Translation:
The sea was calm/serene
Calm/serene was the sea

Note: This little jingle is sung by small children in many Spanish speaking countries to play with vowel sounds, similar to the English song, “I Like to Eat Apples and Bananas.” They start out with “La mar estaba serena…serena estaba la mar” with the correct vowels. Then they repeat the stanza 5 times, each time substituting all of the vowels with either “a”, “e”, “i” “o” or “u.” So, by the 5th repetition everyone is singing “Lu mur ustubu surunu…,” etc. Then, after all the vowels are gone through, the correct pronunciation is sung as the grand finale. It is quite hilarious, and usually the kids are rolling all over the place by the end, enjoying the silly sounds.

 

Bright Morning Stars – An Appalachian Folk Tune

Bright Morning Stars – An Appalachian Folk Tune

Bright morning stars are rising
Bright morning stars are rising
Bright morning stars are rising
Day is a’breaking
In my soul
Oh where are our dear fathers?
Oh where are our dear fathers?
They are down in the valley a’praying
Day is a’breaking
In my soul
Oh where are our dear mothers? Oh where are our dear mothers?
They are gone to heaven a’shouting
Day is a’breaking In my soul
Bright morning stars are rising
Bright morning stars are rising
Bright morning stars are rising
Day is a’breaking
In my soul

Wade in the Water Medley – Traditional Spirituals

Traditional Spirituals

I learned this medley from Ysaye Barnwell at a music educators conference way back in 1999. A favorite amongst my elementary school choirs as well as my adult choirs and circles.

Wade In the Water was an Underground Railroad song, sung as a guide to assist the those moving towards freedom to know where the safe river crossings were, or to get into the water so the dogs would lose the scent. Also referencing the Bible from Exedos. “An angel troubled the water”. A call to get in the water to become whole and healed again.

Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child – a song of grief for those separated from their families and their homeland.

I Wanna Die Easy When I Die – the enslaved people’s way of claiming that they WILL make it to freedom, and they will not die until they do – Such strength and conviction of spirit!

When I sing these songs with my groups, I also like to presence that we are still on a journey of reparations, justice and equality with people of color who are descendants of the enslaved. There are still deep wounds that need to be healed. I like to have the circle speak their prayers, or I like to set an intention that as we sing these songs, we are creating a ripple of love and healing for those still on the journey, and for our nation as a whole.

Lyrics:

Wade In The Water

Wade in the water
Wade in the water children
Wade in the water
God’s gonna trouble the water

Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child

Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
A long way from home

I Wanna Die Easy

I wanna die easy when I die
I wanna die easy when I die
I wanna die easy when I die
Shout salvation when I rise
I want to die easy when I die

These songs are in the public domain

Gayatri Mantra – Traditional Vedic Chant

One of my favorite morning chants from the Vedic tradition

Lyrics:

Om Bhur Bhuvah Swaha,
Tat Savitur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi,
Dhiyo Yo Nah Pracho Dayat

Meaning and History:

A prayer to the Divine Light Traditionally chanted in the morning as the sun is rising

The Gayatri mantra first appeared in the Rig Veda, an early Vedic text written between 1800 and 1500 BCE

Translation:

The eternal, earth, air, heaven
That glory, that resplendence of the sun
May we contemplate on the brilliance of that light
May the sun inspire our minds

Lokah Samastah

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu is a Sanskrit mantra which means:

“May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute to that happiness and to that freedom for all.”

A mantra from the Vedic tradition, where mantras are chanted on only three notes. SA, RE, and NI. Over time, mantras such as this one have been turned into countless melodies and rhythms. I learned this particular one from Slivia Nakkach. She learned it on her travels in India.

Bele Mama – Cameroon, West Africa

This is a great ice-breaker of a song! The perfect opener. It gets your group singing in harmony in a matter of minutes. Possible meaning is “Mama come out and play!” When I first learned this, I learned that it was from the Torres Straight Islands and that it meant “Beautiful Earth.” The more research I do, the more I find that it’s actually from West Africa and has traveled and traveled far and wide. I learned it off of a “WombSong” CD. Enjoy!

This song is in the public domain
Arrangement by Heather Houston
www.heatherhoustonmusic.com

Lyrics:

Bele mama, bele mama ee ay
Bele mama, bele mama ee ay
Bele mama, bele mama, bele mama, bele mama,
Bele mama, bele mama ee eh

Zominamina from the Ivory Coast

A gathering song from the Ivory Coast. I learned this one from an Inkululeko CD back in 2000 when I was teaching elementary school. I arranged the harmonies for my students. It became a favorite for all of the grades, every year. Adults love it too! 😉

Try keeping the rhythm in your hands or feet as you sing it.

This song is in the public domain.

Lyrics:

Zominamina eh eh
Wake wake eh eh eh
Zominamina zonga le wa
Ana wa ah ah

Zongo eh eh eh
Zongo eh eh eh
Zominamina zonga le wa
Ana wa ah ah

Mochi Numba from Kenya

An uplifting gathering song from Kenya. I use this one often when opening a circle. “Welcome to my village, you are all a part of my village, we are all one village.” I learned this song from my dear singing sister Debbie Nargi Brown.

Lyrics:

Ay Yai mochi numba
Ay Yai mochi numba
Go berri samba mochi numba
Go berri samba mochi numba
Go berri chickede mochi numba
Go berri checkede mochi numba

Apache Honoring Song

I learned this chant from a Walela CD. This is a simplified version that I arranged for my circles and my choir. In my women’s singing circles, I have women take turns standing in the middle to receive the blessing of women’s voices singing them home. We sometimes speak out loud what we see and honor about the woman / women standing in the center.

Walela

This traditional chant is in the public domain.

Lyrics:

Yo way ee oh, yo way oh way
Yo way oh hi ya, yo way oh hi ee ya
Yo wa oh, hey ya, hey yo, hey ya, hey yo, hey ya, hey yo yo way
Hi