Musical Traditions

by Caryl Tiption, Director, Music Ministry

In this crazy world we live in, isn’t it nice to have traditions and rituals that connect us to our past and/or can bring us into the future? And…the best thing is when we can enjoy and make new traditions of our own in the present.

Maybe you sang songs from a childhood tradition like Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel, Happy Diwali, Jingle Bells, Samhain Night, Away in a Manger, O Kwanzaa or The Holly and the Ivy. As we develop traditions which reflect our Unitarian Universalist principles, what songs do UUs have for the holidays?

What is so great about songs for the winter holidays for Unitarian Universalists is that we sing them all! Our hymnal includes songs from most traditions. We sing about what’s most valued in all the religious holidays at this time of year….family, love, hospitality and fun. Many lyrics of “carols” in our hymnal were written by Unitarian Universalists: It Came Upon a Midnight Clear by Unitarian minister Edmund Hamilton Sears; or purer than purest by Unitarian poet e.e. cummings. Gather Round the Manger was written by Rev. Heather Lynn Hanson as a gift for the children and members of the First Unitarian Church in Houston, Texas and is used by them annually.

There’s Mi Y’Malel and Light One Candle for Hanukkah; for Kwanzaa, When all the peoples of the Earth; Alhamdulillah from the Muslim faith; and Daya Kar Daan Bhakti Ka from the Hindu tradition. Realizing that many traditions are not included in the hymnal, there is a committee of UU musicians working on a new one that will incorporate songs from many other cultures’ holidays that are not currently represented .

In whatever way you celebrate holidays in December, I wish you a time of fun, anticipation, family (by biology or by choice), peace and joy!

Happy Holiday!