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

 

Bring Me Little Water Sylvie – Lead Belly

Bring Me Little Water Sylvie
by Lead Belly

When performing this song, Lead Belly would often tell his audiences that the song was about his uncle Bob Ledbetter, who worked out on the fields plowing the soil. When he got thirsty, he would call for his wife, Sylvie, to bring him some water.

This song is in the public domain.

Lyrics:
Bring me little water Sylvie
Bring me little water now
Bring me little water Sylvie
Every little once in a while

Bring it in a bucket Sylvie
Bring it in a bucket now
Bring it in a bucket every once in a while

Silvie come a running
Bucket in my hand
I will bring a little water
Fast as I can

Bring me little water Sylvie
Bring me little water now
Bring me little water Sylvie
Every little once in a while

Can’t you see me coming
Can’t you see me now
I will bring a little water
Every once in a while

Take Me To The Edge – Heather Houston

Take Me To The Edge by Heather Houston

This one flowed through after our first community singing retreat at Esalen. I was on my way to the song leader after-party, and it jumped in. Rhythmically challenging and fun to do with a group of more advanced singers. Funky, groovy, soulful.

Please sing and share. Please do not record.

Lyrics:
Take me to the edge
Of the world
Take me to the edge of the sea
Take me to the edge
of my resistance
Where I meet the one who’s longing to be free!

© Heather Houston
all rights reserved

Chant to Oshun – Traditional Yoruba Chant

Chant to Oshun – Traditional Yoruba chant
Taught to me by Alba Lirio

Recorded with permission

In devotion to the Yoruba Goddess of the fresh waters, an expression of sweetness, sensuality, femininity, beauty, love, and overflowing joy. A favorite in our Sisters in Harmony circles.

Lyrics:
Ay ye ye, ay ye ye Ma Mai Oshun x2
Ay ye ye Ma Mai Oshun, Ay ye ye Oshun mare x2

This song is in the public domain

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.

 

Chant to Yemaya – Traditional Yoruba Chant

A traditional Yoruba chant to the Goddess of the sea, the Mother of all, often portrayed as a mermaid.  I like to invite my singers to call out the qualities of the ocean before we sing it, then invite them feel the flow of the water in their bodies as they move and sing. It is also meant to observe the qualities of female and male that merge and melt within us.

This chant can be sung in a round.

Possible Translation: 

Goddess of the sea

Female and male merge or melt. (they are one)

 

A traditional chant in the public domain.

Lyrics:

Yemaya oh, ako, ako yo yemaya
Yemaya oh, ako, ako yo yemaya

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:

Put Your Roots Down – Molly Hartwell

A fun, rhythmic, layer song inviting us to listen deeply to the rhythm of the Earth and the sound of the river. The composer of this song is my dear soul sister in song Molly Hartwell. She calls it “Root Down.” Received by Molly way back in the early 2000’s, this song has traveled far and wide and Molly gives her blessing for you to sing it however you have arranged it for your singers. Molly recorded her original version for us. It’s posted below for reference. Enjoy! To hear more of Molly’s voice, check out our SIRENZ album!

by Molly Hartwell

Recorded with permission

 

Molly singing her original version:

Heather singing her arrangement of Molly’s song:

Lyrics:

MOLLY’S ORIGINAL VERSION:

When you listen to the ground and you put your roots down,

you can hear what she says if you’re listening. x2

The sweet sound of the river as she moves over the stones

the same song that the blood in your body sings

as it weaves around your bones.

When your listening

When your listening

Are you listening?

HEATHER’S ARRANGEMENT FOR HER SINGERS:

Part 1: Put your roots down, put your feet on the ground, can you hear what she says when you listen?

Part 2: Cause the sound of the river as it moves across the stone is the same sound as the blood in your body as it moves across your bones.

Part 3: Are you listening?

 

Chant to Nana by Heather Houston

In the Yoruba traditions, Nana is the Great Grandmother of all the Orishas, the Grandmother of our sacred waters, and the Mother of the Universe. This wise and revered Orisha embodies the spirit of the earth, the moon, the rain, mud, swamps and fresh spring waters. She is the energy of transformative healing powers. She watches over the women and is the protector of everything female. It is said that she has very little patience for men and surrounds herself mainly with priestesses. Women find comfort in her knowledge and strength. They flock to her for guidance and spiritual healing.

For many years I chanted chants to Nana with my teacher Alba Lirio. One day when I was driving through the hills of Marin, tending to my broken heart, an original melody flowed through me with lyrics to Nana. I clearly needed the healing energy she brings, and have been forever grateful for the gift of this chant. The women in my circles adore it as well.

Lyrics:

Part 1: (the round)
Eh na na Eh na na Eh na na, Eh na na Eh na na Eh

Part 2: (the hight part)
Eh di na na eh wa
Eh wa eh wa
Eh wa eh wa eh

Part 3: (the low part)
Eh di na na eh wa
Eh wa eh wa
Eh wa eh wa