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

Mama Gaia – Heather Houston

A tribute to our beautiful Mother Earth. This one flowed through on a warm Spring day with the energy of gratitude in my heart! Sung in a round.

Lyrics:
Oh Mama Gaia
Oh Mama Gaia
Oh Mama Gaia
We sing our praise to you!

Infinite Bliss – Heather Houston

This fun polyrhythmic chant came to me on the winds at Pinnacles National Monument. I love to hike alone there and experience “the hills are alive with the sound of music” kinds of moments. 🙂 It’s vast and spacious and filled with fields of wildflowers! Absolute bliss! So this song got titled Infinite Bliss.

I like to really break down the rhythms on this one, pointing out the up beats and down beats at the beginning of each phrase.

© Heather Houston 2005
All rights reserved

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

Re-Wild My Soul — Heather Houston

This beautiful chant poured through me one morning in a meditation on my sister’s land in northern Washington. With Mt. Baker above me, Canyon Creek below me, sunshine, wind, eagles, vast sky and forest all around me, I went into a deep state of communion with the land and allowed this song to move through. It doesn’t make grammatical sense entirely, but it’s easier to teach this way. Enjoy!

Lyrics:

Note: The order of the verses here is as recorded on my Sisters of the Moon album, the first SoundCloud track below. The practice tracks are an earlier version with a different order of verses and slightly different wording on the “Vast Sky” verse. Please use the most recent lyrics when you offer this song, thank you!

Oh RIVER, re-wild my soul
Help me let go of control
Show my heart how to flow with ease again
I am ready, take me in

Oh MOUNTAIN, re-wild my soul
Help me let go of control
Show my heart how to lift mine eyes again
I am ready, take me in

Oh EAGLE, re-wild my soul
Help me let go of control
Show my heart how to fly so free again
I am ready, take me in

Oh VAST SKY, re-wild my soul
Help me let go of control
Show my heart how to be spaciousness again
I am ready, take me in

Oh SOFT WIND, re-wild my soul
Help me let go of control
Show my heart how to be clear and cleansed again
I am ready, take me in

Oh FOREST, re-wild my soul
Help me let go of control
Show my heart how to trust this path again
I am ready, take me in

Oh SUNSHINE, re-wild my soul
Help me let go of control
Show my heart how to shine with warmth again
I am ready, take me in

Oh MAMA, re-wild my soul
Help me let go of control
Show my heart how to beat with yours again
I am ready, take me in

©Heather Houston
All rights reserved

Sisters of the Moon album version:

Practice Tracks:

I’m Going Back – Heather Houston

A great rhythmic entrainment song. I love to get my singers moving their feet together on this one, and then eventually invite them to play the heart beat on their chest. This one flowed through one morning in thinking about recording my “Sisters of the Moon” album. It didn’t make it on the album, but it sure is fun to sing in circle. Enjoy!

© Heather Houston 2019
All rights reserved

Lyrics:

I’m going back
to the earth
I’m going back
to be re-birthed
into the cycles of the moon
where I feel the rhythm of our unified
heart, beat
I’m going back

The Earth Delights – Heather Houston

Original Poetry by Khalil Gibran

A beautiful reminder of the intimate dance we do with the more than human world. This has been a favorite quote of mine for over 20 years, and I woke up one morning this Spring with this sweet little melody moving through. I love the syncopation of the harmonies. It’s so fun to play with the rhythm on this one. A fun challenge for my circles of singing women, and yours!

© 2019 Heather Houston
All rights reserved

Lyrics:

The earth delights to feel your bare feet
And the wind longs to play with your hair

Earth My Body – Source Unknown

I’ve known and sung this beautiful chant in women’s circles for many years. It’s an invitation to feel one with the Earth, a reminder of our sacred connection to and responsibility for the more than human world. The composer is unknown, and the song is in the public domain.

Arrangement by Heather Houston

Lyrics:

Earth my body,
Water my blood,
Air my breath
and fire my spirit

Cherokee Morning Song – Traditional

Chanting the sun up! This one resonates deeply with my soul. I thank the ones who channeled this beautiful song through. Learned from from a Waleala CD.

Public Domain

Lyrics:

Winde ya ho
Winde ya ho
Winde ya
Winde ya
Ho ho ho ho
Hey oh hey oh
Ya ya ya