I found myself reflecting on the way in which music acts as a restorative for me. I listened to the Brandenburg Concertos again and was aware of the stimulation to my own central nervous system. But then I noted that Frank Sinatra singing ‘New York, New York’, or Shirley Bassey singing ‘Don’t cry for me Argentina’ could have a similar effect. The raw energy of Tina Turner singing could, if I gave myself up to the rhythm, produce a responding surge of energy in me. I understand that students doing tests after listening to Mozart are reported to have better scores than when they do the tests without the warm-up.
The Holy Spirit can indeed restore us to health (or stimulate us to work well) through the medium of music as well as prayer or antibiotics! And why, indeed, should I be surprised that this is so? Creativity is the gift that we were given on the eighth day of creation. In naming and re-making the world we are co-workers with God, and whether we are making a garden or a meal, a painting or a piece of furniture or a computer program, we are sharing in an ongoing act of creation through which the world is constantly re-made.
Jo Farrow, 1994. Quaker Faith and Practice 21.38
One Tuesday evening, several EMEYFers met to have a discussion about music, and share songs that speak to us as Friends. Here’s what we came up with:
Hymn for the 81% – Daniel Deitrich
“In 2016, 81% of white evangelical Christians voted for Donald Trump after (among other things) hearing an audio recording of him bragging about sexually assaulting women. Maya Angelou famously said, “when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
In the years since, even after enacting deliberately cruel policies to rip families apart and put children in cages at the southern border, evangelical support is as fervent as ever.
I [Daniel Dietrich] was raised in the Evangelical world. It shaped me. I learned to take the words of Jesus seriously – love God, love your neighbor, feed the hungry, fight for justice for the oppressed. I thought that things like love, kindness, gentleness, and self-control MATTERED. I have been so confused and deeply saddened by the unflinching loyalty to a man who so clearly embodies the opposite of these values.
This song is a lament. It’s a loving rebuke. It’s a plea for the 81%, to come home to the way of Jesus.”
The Kindest Voice – Sarah Pirtle
“And have you lost that hidden flame that gives us strength to rise again,
the inner voice that speaks as friend, the light that leads us home?
When you are lost and have no light, go deep inside the darkest night,
and find a voice that brings back sight — find the kindest voice.
Listen deep inside now for the light that is leading you.
Listen deep inside now. You’ll find the kindest voice…”
Vine and the Fig Tree – traditional
“And every one ‘neath their vine and fig tree
Shall live in peace and unafraid
And into plowshares turn their swords,
Nations shall learn war no more”
Oh Come all ye Faithful
A call to meeting for worship..?
A favourite of Quaker Summer camps whether in Norway or the US.
The George Fox Song / Walk in the Light – Sydney Carter / traditional
A favourite of Quaker Summer camps whether in Norway or the US
Har du Fyr – Ola Bremnes
A song about Here’s a translation of the lyrics for those you can’t follow Norwegian (a personal translation is available in the EMEYF facebook group).
Oxygen – Willy Mason
“…We can be stronger than bombs
If you’re singing along and you know that you really believe
We can be richer than industry
As long as we know that there’s things that we don’t really need
We can speak louder than ignorance
Cause we speak in silence every time our eyes meet…”
Hopelessness Blues – Fleet Foxes
“…I was raised up believing I was somehow unique
Like a snowflake distinct among snowflakes
Unique in each way you can see
And now after some thinking, I’d say I’d rather be
A functioning cog in some great machinery
Serving something beyond me
But I don’t, I don’t know what that will be
I’ll get back to you someday soon, you will see…”
Lifted Up – Jon Watts
Jon Watts, the Quaker rapper, is probably most famous for “Friend Speaks my mind” also known as “Dance party erupts in meeting for worship” on YouTube. Watts’ later album Clothe yourself in Righteousness takes the practice of early Friends “going naked for a sign” as its basis, exploring what it means to be naked before God, exploring vulnerability and authenticity. The single from that album is called “Lets get Naked” which has resulted in it being age restricted on YouTube…
Spinning Away – Brian Eno
“A song that I personally find quite Quakerly is ‘Spinning Away’ by Brian Eno. A lot of his music is influenced by his conceptual art and is experimental and ambient; and this one is a little different from that. Both the music and the lyrics move me, he sings about sitting on a hill under the stars drawing, and I think he describes the quality of stillness so well in the way that he extends a simple moment and makes it sound so profound.”
Which songs would you add to this? Which songs or what music speaks to you as a Friend?
We are meeting every Tuesday evening in our Jitsi space. You can find the current schedule at http://www.emeyf.org. Message any member of the Communications Committee or any other active EMEYF friend for the link to our virtual Jitsi space.