Sun Shine — Jan Estep

Our very own Sisters in Harmony Song Leader Training graduate Jan shares this song with us:

A four-part layer song, written to celebrate the power and healing presence of the Sun. Multiple harmonies and rhythms stack together, bursting with light and energy. For anyone who has experienced dark days of depression, being outside on a bright sunny day is natural medicine.

Lyrics:

Parts 1 & 2, melody and higher harmony:

Sun shine down on me, let my body breath the light
Sun shine down on me, let my body feel your warmth
Sun shine down on me, help me thaw these frozen bones
Sun shine down on me, help me find my way back home

Part 3, low:

Sun shine, sun shine, healing me, setting me free (4x)

Part 4, high:

Shine your light (2x)
Shine your light, shine your light, shine your light, shine your light (2x)

© Jan Estep 05/18/2021
All rights reserved
Jan’s site

 

Mother Waters — Heather Houston

Offered in utter devotion to our Mother Waters. This one poured through me as I knelt down on the banks of the Tuolumne River to express my gratitude. To be sung with reverence and devotion.

Lyrics:

Oh Mother Waters
Thank you for your healing song
Oh Mother Waters
Here I know
that I belong

© Heather Houston
August 2021
All rights reserved

 

The Lost Words Blessing — Various Artists

Lyrics inspired by Robert MacFarlane & Jackie Morris’s book “The Lost Words: A Spell Book“, honoring words from the natural word that have been disappearing from a widely used children’s dictionary since 2007, replaced with modern words which the editors thought were more useful to today’s kids.

Music by: Julie Fowlis, Karine Polwart, Seckou Keita, Kris Drever, Rachel Newton, Beth Porter, Jim Molyneux, Kerry Andrew.

The form of the song is inspired by Scottish Gaelic blessings, particularly from a collection of poems, prayers, incantations, and lore called the Carmina Gadelica.

This music video shows the artists creating the song:

Lyrics:

Enter the wild with care my love
And speak the things you see
Let new names take and root and thrive and grow
And even as you travel far from heather, crag, and river
May you like the little fisher set the stream alight with glitter
May you enter now as otter without falter into water

Look to the sky with care my love
And speak the things you see
Let new names take and root and thrive and grow
And even as you journey on past dying stars exploding
Like the gilded one in flight, leave your little gifts of light
And in the dead of night my darling, find the gleaming eye of starling
Like the little aviator, sing your heart to all dark matter

Walk through the world with care, my love
And sing the things you see
Let new names take and root and thrive and grow
And even as you stumble through machair sands eroding
Let the fern unfurl your grieving, let the heron still your breathing
Let the selkie swim you deeper, oh my little silver-seeker
Even as the hour grows bleaker, be the singer and the speaker
And in city and in forest, let the larks become your chorus
And when every hope is gone, let the raven call you home

Shadows and Light — Heather Houston

Received on the morning of the Fall Equinox of 2021 at sunrise. A hauntingly beautiful layer song!

Lyrics:

Part 1:
Honoring the darkness,
Honoring the light,
Honoring the day,
Honoring the night

Part 2:
All things find their way
into balance

Part 3:
Suspended in time

Part 4:
Shadows and light

Part 5, highest voice:
Suspended in time

© Heather Houston
September 21, 2021
All rights reserved

The Earth Holds Me – Heather Houston

For the moments we need to feel held and connected – to be able to sink in and feel resourced. I use the lyrics earth, sea, tree, sky, stars, but please use as a zipper song and invite yourself or your participants to bring their ideas in to the mix.

Lyrics:

The earth holds me
so I can hold others,
yes I can hold others,
these arms are strong.

In this version I add in:
Sea, tree, sky, stars, sun, etc…

© Heather Houston
02/2021
All rights reserved

La Mar Estaba Serena — A Folk Tune

I learned this sweet tune from a woman in our choir, Erika Dominguez. The origin is unknown; it’s a common folk song in the Spanish-speaking Americas. 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 in 2020 with the energy of gratitude in my heart! Sung in a round. It’s quite challenging vocally, so make sure that you and your participants are good and warmed up, and invite them to breathe deeply.

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