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

Glory Glory Hallelujah – Traditional Spiritual

We love singing this one in the fall… letting go of our burdens. Rather than teach harmony parts on this one, I let it be a free for all… a place where women can experiment with harmony and improvised singing.

Lyrics:

Glory glory hallelujah
Since I laid my burdens down
Glory glory hallelujah
Since I laid my burdens down

This song is 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

 

Sto Mi E Milo from Macedonia

My a cappella quartet, SIRENZ, and my Yala Lati Women’s choir loves to sing this beautifully uplifting song from Macedonia! With my song circles, I will just teach the first verse. A song of hope and a vision of normalcy in a war torn part of the world. Tight harmonies and a 7/8 rhythm keep it interesting. I learned this song from Kitka, who learned it from Ethel Raim.

Used with permission from the women of Kitka

Sheet Music: Please contact Heather through her website. www.heatherhoustonmusic.com

Translation:

Oh, how I’d like to have shop is Struga! To have a shop in Struga where I can sit at the front of the store and watch the Struga girls go by with their colorful water jugs on the way to the cold stream to meet with their friends there.

Lyrics:

Sto mi e milo, milo i drago
Vo Struga grada, mamo, Dukan da imam
Le le varai, mome, mome Kalino
Vo Struga grada, mamo, Dukan da imam

Na kepencite, mamo, da sedam,
Struskite momi, mamo, momo da gledam
Le le varai mome, mome Kalino,
Stuskite momi, mamo, momo da gledam

Koga na voda, voda mi odat
So tija stomni, mamo, Stomni sareni
Le le varai, mome, mome Kalino,
So tija stomni, mamo, stomni sareni

Na ovoj izvor, izvor studeni,
Tam da se sdruski, mamo, sdruski soberat
Le le varan, mome, mome Kalino,
Tam da se sdruski, mamo,
Sdruski soberat.

Difficulty Level: 8