Under the direction of Sadie Sonntag the choir provides music for Sunday services at least two services a month from September through June. This year the choir will take the month of July off and return to the 2nd and 4th Sunday schedule in August. Check back here for upcoming choir performances.
The Choir performs "The Power of One" at the 9:15 service (only service this week).
Sun12Mar20179:15 & 11:00 amSanctuary
Sun16Apr20179:15 & 11:00 AMSanctuary
This piece puts the Homeric Hymn "To Gaia, Mother of All" to music written by Jesus Contreras.
Sun30Apr20179:15 & 11:00 AMSanctuary
The Choir performs "The Call" by Ralph Vaughn Williams.
Sun14May20179:15 & 11:00 amSanctuary
Sun28May20179:15 & 11:00 amSanctuary
Sunday, May 28, the choir performs "Peace Train". This song was released in 1971 by Cat Stevens and appears on his album Teaser and the Firecat. It was Stevens first Top Ten hit in the US. That was during the Vietnam War. Later, during the Iraq War, the song's relevance was revived.
According to Wikipedia, Stevens -- who had by then converted to Islam and changed his name to Yusuf Islam -- said of the piece, "'Peace Train' is a song I wrote, the message of which continues to breeze thunderously through the hearts of millions. There is a powerful need for people to feel that gust of hope rise up again."
Sadie Sonntag will direct the choir in singing a Kirby Shaw choral arrangement of this powerful and appropriate song of hope.
Sunday, June 11, the choir will perform a powerful and moving piece titled "The Road Home". Composer Stephen Paulus took a 19th century folk tune called "The Lone Wild Bird" and adapted it to a modern choral setting. He asked his friend and colleague Michael Dennis Browne to write new words for it.
Mr Paulus writes on his website https://stephenpaulus.com:
The tune is taken from The Southern Harmony Songbook of 1835. It is pentatonic and that is part of its attraction. Pentatonic scales have been extant for centuries and are prevalent in almost all musical cultures throughout the world. They are universal. Michael crafted three verses and gave it the title "The Road Home." He writes so eloquently about "returning" and "coming home" after being lost or wandering.
The theme of June 11th's service is Hope. This simple and beautiful message embodies the hope of the wanderer to someday find herself on the Road Home.
Sunday, June 25, the choir will perform a Bach hymn. What we'll sing is actually in two places in our hymnal, Singing the Living Tradition, pages 22 and 41. We will sing them as one piece. Our featured soloist will be Sally Jones.
The music was written by Nikolaus Herman (1480-1561) and J S Bach (1685-1750) took the tune and enhanced it with harmony in a manner only he could. The words to the first 3 stanzas were written by Unitarian Universalist Nancy C Dorian (1936-present), but the words to the last 2 verses originated with English poet George Gascoigne (1540-1577) and were adapted to be sung.
June 25 will be the last choir performance of the summer as our director (and we) take a small break during the summer months. We'll be back, singing to you again in the Fall.
Sun20Aug201710:00 AM ONLYSanctuary
Sunday, August 20, the choir is back and will perform a delightful piece titled "Vivir mi vida", I live my life. This song performed by Marc Anthony has won quite a few awards, including several Billboard Latin Music awards.
The lyrics translate as:
I'm gonna laugh, I'm gonna dance
[I'm gonna] live my life, la, la, la, la
I'm gonna laugh, I'm gonna enjoy
live my life, la, la, la, la
This appearance of the choir is a "pre-season" performance. We will be back to our full strength and normal 2nd and 4th Sundays schedule starting in September.
Sun10Sep20179:15 & 11:00 AMSanctuary
Summer is over (well, according to the calendar, anyway) and the Choir will sing for Ingathering at both services (9:15 and 11:00 AM) this Sunday, the 10th. We thus we begin our regular 2nd and 4th Sunday performances.
We will sing a 4-part rendition of "Come Come Whoever You Are" (#188 in the regular hymnal) in a round surrounding the congregation. We will also sing a hymn from the "Teal Hymnal" titled "Fire Of Commitment".
So come, come whoever you are, and join us in singing of the fire of our commitment!
Sun24Sep20179:15 & 11:00 AMSanctuary
Next Sunday the choir performs "Flow Water" written by Damien Kehoe when he was just 22. This piece touches on modern dimensions of choral harmonies. The words are free verse poetry.
Peace like a river that flows beneath the sky,
water so fresh and still where I alone must lie,
strength of the current, washing from the earth
oh hear that moving water surge from my heart
it is where I go to search amidst the lake
where pain and anguish burn like the flame in my heart
like the flame in my soul wait for water
peace like a river like a river so fresh and still
beneath the sky fresh so fresh and still
where I alone must lie
where I alone must lie
where I alone must lie
Just at the beginning of his musical career, Damien looks forward to cultivating new sounds and experimenting with different styles and techniques. He lists Whitacre, Palestrina, Bach and Wagner as his main influences.
Sun08Oct20179:15 & 11:00 AMSanctuary
Sunday, in keeping with this month's theme of Hospitality, the Choir will enchant and move us with "Locus Iste", a piece that evokes the sacredness of "this place" composed in 1869 and based on the biblical story of Jacob’s ladder.
Locus iste a Deo factus est, inaestimabile sacramentum, irreprehensibilis est
This place was made by God, a priceless mystery; it is without reproof.
Sun22Oct20179:15 & 11:00 AMSanctuary
This coming Sunday the choir is back. The last 2 weeks have cast all of us into an intense, terrifying, heartbreaking ordeal. And we had to lean on each other to make it through. We'll do more than just make it through. We will rise up from these ashes, stronger and more united than ever.
"Lean On Me" by Bill Withers, 1972, is our song today.
Lean on me when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend. I'll help you carry on.
For it won't be long till I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on.
Sadie Sonntag, our Director, will also sing "Rise Up" released by Andra Day in 2015.
I'll rise up. I'll rise like the day
I'll rise up. I'll rise unafraid
I'll rise up. And I'll do it a thousand times again
I'll rise up high like the waves.
I'll rise up in spite of the ache.
I'll rise up. And I'll do it a thousand times again
Together we can move mountains.
Sun12Nov20179:15 & 11:00 AMSanctuary
The theme for this Sunday is "Bring Many Names". It is said there are 9 Billion names of God. That's at least one name for every person living on this planet at present. The choir will sing "Ubi Caritas", which seems to say that one of those names of God is "Love".
Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est Where there is charity and love, God is there
Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor The love of Christ has gathered us as one
Exsultemus et in ipso jucundemur Let us rejoice and be glad in it
Timeamus et amemus Deum vivum Let us honor and love the living God
Et ex corde diligamus nos sincero From a sincere heart let us love one another
Also this Sunday we will sing "Bring Many Names" as Rev Chris recites 99 Names of God.
Bring many names, beautiful and good;
Celebrate in parable and story,
Holiness in glory, living, loving God:
Hail and hosanna, bring many names.
The Spirit of Love and Life knows all our names too.
Sun26Nov20179:15 & 11:00 AMSanctuary
This Sunday marks the end of a long Thanksgiving Weekend. Sometimes it's hard to be thankful. Sometimes thankfulness just washes over you. We've felt both recently. The choir will perform a traditional southern gospel song titled "Down in the River to Pray". The origin of this song is unknown, but tradition suggests it was sung first by African-American slaves. It is also known as "Down to the River to Pray", but maybe these folks were Baptists. And you know, Baptists immerse!
Some of the words are:
As I went down in the river to pray,
Studyin' about that good ol' way
And who shall wear the robe and crown;
Good Lord, show me the way.
Oh, sinners, let's go down, let's go down, come on down.
Oh, sinners, let's go down, down in the river to pray.
Sun10Dec20179:15 & 11:00 AMSanctuary
This Sunday the choir presents a song by Eric Ode and Tim Blickman. Titled "Weave Me A Poem" the song was commissioned with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts by the CSA Children's Choir directed by Dr Mary Lynn Doherty. The beautiful melody compliments the beautiful words in free verse.
There's a small gray bird hidden in the roses;
the one nobody notices, the one nobody sees.
Does that small bird worry as we're hurrying by
that her song is not worth singing
and nothing is worth bringing to the day?
I have a song.
Will I hide it inside me,
or will I give it away?
Sunday the choir will give this song away for free!
Sun24Dec201710:00 AM & 6:00 PMSanctuary
This Sunday is Christmas Eve. The choir will sing at the contemplative 10 am service and at the celebratory 6 pm service. Among the numbers they will sing, some with audience participation, are:
Non Nobis Domine,
Infant Holy, Infant Lowly,
Lo, A Rose E'er Blooming,
Night Of Silence/Silent Night,
plus many familiar Christmas carols.
Night of Silence/Silent Night will be sung at the evening Christmas Eve service during the traditional candle lighting time. Please come to either or both services and experience the peace and power of beautiful music.
Sun14Jan20189:15 & 11:00 AMSanctuary
Sunday , January 14, the theme will be Justice for Immigrants. In keeping with this theme, the choir will sing a Pete Seeger song we all know, "This Land Is Your Land". The words and melody will be familiar...
This land is your land, this land is my land,
From California to the New York island;
From the redwood forests to the Gulf Stream waters;
This land is made for you and me.
...but you may notice some innovations, arranged by our own music director, Sadie Sonntag.
Sun28Jan20189:15 & 11:00 AMSanctuary
John Rutter is one of the foremost choir music composers of this or the last century. Sunday, January 28, the choir will perform his "For the Beauty of the Earth", an anthem with words familiar to church goers and hymn singers since 1864. This new setting emphasizes the voices of sopranos, altos, tenors, and basses and combines them in harmonies beautiful and moving.
For the beauty of the earth
For the beauty of the skies
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies.
For the joy of human love
Brother, sister, parent, child
Friends on earth, and friends above
For all gentle thoughts and mild
Lord of all to thee we raise
This our hymn of joyful praise!
As our theme of Justice continues we celebrate our blessings of beauty, love, and joy.
Sun11Feb20189:15 AM onlySanctuary
"What Wondrous Love Is This" is a Christian folk hymn first published in 1811 in Lynchburg, VA in a camp meeting songbook. The present melody is from The Southern Harmony, 1835 edition. In 1992, Connie Campbell Hart created new lyrics for this beloved traditional hymn.
What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul,
What wondrous love is this, O my soul?
What wondrous love is this that brings my heart such bliss,
And takes away the pain of my soul, of my soul
And takes away the pain of my soul.
Continuing our month-long theme of Love, we sing and celebrate the wonder of Love.
Sun25Mar20189:15 & 11:00 AMSanctuary
"Luci care, luci belle", a nocturnes by W A Mozart, was composed around 1783. The words come from Pietro Metastasio, a librettist from the 18th century.
Luci care, luci belle,
cari lumi, amate stelle,
date calma a questo cuore,
date calma a questo cuore!
Dear lights, beautiful lights,
Dear lights, beloved stars,
Give calm to this heart,
Give calm to this heart!
Continuing our month-long theme of humility, this "night song" reflects the calm that soothes the heart when one beholds the vast Universe of stars.
Sun01Apr20189:15 & 11:00 AMSanctuary
One of the last pieces J S Bach wrote was his Mass in B minor completed in 1749, the year before his death. The choir under Sadie's direction, along with an ensemble of 3 recorders and cello will perform the last part of the last movement of the Mass, the Dona Nobis Pacem.
The petition to "grant us peace" closes the Mass. It is a somber, deliberate and moving choral expression of hope and expectation. What more poignant and appropriate plea for us today!
Grant us peace. Grant us peace. Grant us peace….
Sun15Apr20189:15 & 11:00 AMSanctuary
"Climb Ev'ry Mountain" was the closing song of the first act of Rodgers & Hammerstein's 1959 hit musical, The Sound Of Music. The lyrics encourage listeners to take any and all necessary steps to realize their dreams. In the story, the main character, Maria, who clearly "would never be a nun", gradually awoke to the possibility of a less sequestered life as she was encouraged to do by the Reverend Mother of the abbey. "When God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window."
The choir will perform this inspiring song on Sunday, April 15, in keeping with the theme of "Gradual Awakening".
Climb ev'ry mountain,
Ford ev'ry stream,
Follow ev'ry rainbow,
Till you find your dream!
Sun10Jun20189:15 AM onlySanctuary
"What A Wonderful World", featured in the 1987 movie Good Morning, Vietnam, and presented this Sunday by the choir, was originally performed by Louis Armstrong in 1967.
I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do
They're really saying I love you
I hear babies crying, I watch them grow
They'll learn much more than I'll never know
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world
In spite of all we humans do to it, the planet Earth remains a truly wonderful world.
"Lux Aeterna" (eternal light) a choral setting of Nimrod by Edward Elgar, arranged by John Cameron is from the Enigma Variations, published around the turn of the 20th century. Now each of the 16 Variations related to a friend or relative of Elgar, and is each one's approach to the enigma, which has never been conclusively answered. Nimrod was a Biblical character described as a mighty hunter and the Lux Aeterna paints a portrait of Elgar's beloved music editor, Augustus J Jaeger. "Jaeger" is German for "Hunter".
The piece is in Latin, the text is from the Requiem Mass of the Roman Catholic Church. It translates as:
May light eternal shine upon them, O Lord, with Thy saints forever,
for Thou art Kind.
give to them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
The theme for the month of August is "Unity-Diversity", a study of how differences don't have to keep us apart. Some barriers to unity might be mountains, valleys, or rivers. But Valerie Simpson and Nickolas Ashford pointed out in their 1967 Motown hit, put on the charts by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, that...
There ain't no mountain high enough
Ain't no valley low enough
Ain't no river wide enough
To keep me from getting to you
The choir will perform this delightfully rousing love song this Sunday, August 12.
On August 26th, the choir, accompanied by Nancy Hayashibara will present an original composition by Sadie Sonntag, our choir director. She said this about the piece:
"Our family has a tradition of traveling over the summer, going into our own history, taking a break from the present, and pausing for reflection on what is, and what could be.
"Each time we journey through incredibly varied States, I am awestruck by the beauty of each new and different scene. I am intrigued by the differences of personalities of the people we meet and by the diversity in small pockets of culture we encounter.
"Recently, these trips have inspired me to write music around the theme of the United States of America and what that means to me personally. The resulting composition, 'The Golden Door', uses the text by Emma Lazurus which is engraved on the side of the Statue of Liberty; 'Give me your tired, your poor....'
"I have written this piece with the aim of creating something enduring with a very singable and memorable melody. This is for the UU choir and for the congregation, to give voice to those who would feel strongly connected to these words, that they might be heard."
Sun23Sep20189:15 and 11:00 AMSanctuary
The Maori people came to New Zealand from Polynesia in canoes a long time ago. There they developed the art of chanting, singing, and dancing. They called it poi, after a small swinging, bobbing ball on a string. Sunday, the 23rd of September, the choir will perform Tama Tu, a Maori proverb set to music. It starts off with chanting in the native Maori language, continues with song, briefly switches to English, and circles back again. It's not a song you will find it easy to sit still for. In fact the Maori words:
Tama tu, tama ora; tama no-oh, tama mah-tay kai.
Kukuti. Poata ra-u. Puoro! Kani kani!
The one who stands, lives; the one who sits, suffers.
Gather together. Now is the time. Sing! Dance!
It may be hard for some to sing or dance in body, but everyone can make a joyful noise and "pew dance"!
Sun14Oct20189:15 and 11:00 AMSanctuary
Sunday, October 14, at 9:15 and 11:00 AM, the Choir will present a Kirby Shaw arrangement of Leonard Cohen's "Anthem" from the 1992 album The Future. Anthem gives a message of hope in darkness.
The birds they sang at the break of day.
Start again, I heard them say.
Don't dwell on what has passed away...
Or what is yet to be.
The past is the past and can't be changed. The future is the future and can't be seen. But today is here, and if you woke up this morning on the right side of the grass, you have a whole new day before you.
Ring the bells that still can ring!
Forget your perfect offering!
There is a crack, a crack in everything.
That's how the light gets in.
This last year, since the firestorm that devastated so many lives, has shown that hope lives on. Life goes on. And we're not done yet.
Sun28Oct20189:15 & 11:00 AMSanctuary
The end of October brings Halloween, Samhain, Day of the Dead, All Saints Day, All Soul's Day. Different forms of spirituality refer to this time in different ways, but all honor our ancestors. Next Sunday the Choir will express deep reverence for those who came before us, and have since walked on, with a beautiful adagio called "In Paradisum".
The concept of "Paradise" has been around a long time. As a place of peace and happiness, it is imagined as the abode of the virtuous dead in Egyptian, Greek, Muslim, Celtic, Hindu, Hebrew, Christian, and many other traditions. The Latin words in this piece translate:
May angels lead you into paradise
May the martyrs receive you at your arrival
And lead you to the holy city Jerusalem.
May the choirs of angels receive you
And with Lazarus, once a man,
May you have eternal rest.
Composer Damien Kehoe credits the inspiration for his choral compositions to the influence of Whitacre, Palestrina, Bach, and Wagner. Like them, he sees himself experimenting with different harmonies and sounds for choral voices. Wait till you hear the Choir seek paradise on Earth as they perform these experiments!
Thu01Nov20187:00 pmShomrei Torah, Santa Rosa
In solidarity with our Jewish neighbors, the Choir will sing at Congregation Shomrei Torah on Bennett Valley Road in Santa Rosa. To mourn the loss of 11 fellow human beings, we will join with others to sing "One Voice", by Ruth Moody.
The piece begins with one voice making a choice. Another voice joins making it through together. A third voice joins in harmony. Finally, all are singing in love and trust, the sound of one people with one voice.
All are welcome, but parking is limited, so carpool if possible.
If you miss this service, the Choir will reprise it at UUCSR on Veteran's day, Sunday, November 11.
Sun11Nov20189:15 and 11:00 AMSanctuary
"One Voice" written by Ruth Moody, originally performed by The Wailin' Jennys, a Canadian music group, will be performed by the Choir on Veteran's day. The song has been performed many times by many varied groups since it's creation in 2004. Notably it was performed by the US Navy Band to honor the fallen, the wounded and their caretakers, at the Navy birthday concert.
It begins with one voice making a choice. Another voice joins making it through together. A third voice joins in harmony. Finally, all are singing in love and trust, the sound of one people with one voice.
Let us too honor our fallen defenders, the wounded warriors, and their caretakers with this beautiful song of unity.
Sun25Nov20189:15 & 11:00 AMSanctuary
An aspect of Gratitude explores to whom thanks should be given. One can thank one's lucky stars. One can thank one's parents and caretakers. One can thank "all the little people". One can thank God.
G F Handel is widely believed to have composed the aria "Dank sei Dir, Herr", though some insist that the composer and lyricist was one named Siegfried Ochs. Regardless, the choir will perform, in German, a choral arrangement of this piece, which spotlights a soprano soloist.
Dank sei Dir, Herr.
Du hast Dein Volk mit Dir gefuhrt,
Israel hindurch das Meer.
Thanks be to you, Lord.
You have led your people, Israel,
with you through the sea.
Sun09Dec20189:15 & 11:00 AMSanctuary
This is a traditional song sung at Chanukah. Youngsters spin a small top called a dreydl. The 4 sides of the dreydl are adorned by the first letters of the phrase "Nes Gadol Haya Sham" which in Hebrew means "A great miracle happened there". Chanukah is the Jewish Festival of Lights which celebrates the Maccabees' victory over the Greek Syrians in 165 BCE. After the battle, when the Hebrews returned to their Temple, they found only enough oil to kindle the Temple's Perpetual Light for one day. Nevertheless, they lit the lamp.
The miracle was revealed when the lamp was still burning the second day, and the third day, and continued burning until the eighth day when more oil was prepared.
S'vivon, sov, sov, sov, Chanukah hu chag tov!
Chag simcha hu la-am, Nes gadol haya sham!
Dreidel, spin, spin, spin, Chanukah is a great holiday!
A holiday of happiness it is for the nation. A great miracle happened there.
Sun23Dec20189:15 & 11:00 AMSanctuary
Ten (or so) years ago our Choir Director, Sadie Sonntag, composed a 4-part vocal piece titled "Peace In The Land". Text is taken from Leviticus 26.6, and Job 22.21.
I will give peace in the land, peace,
And ye shall lie down, none shall make you fear.
Acquaint thyself with Him and be at peace.
Thereby good shall come to you.
Although this piece was written a decade ago, it has never been sung by a full choir. We are excited to showcase, again, our Director's talent. Not only as a composer, but as our choir director who somehow elicits from us beautiful music.
Luke 1.26-38 is known in Christendom as "The Annunciation". A prominent elderly Jewess named Elizabeth, who had been barren her whole life, was 6 months along when an angel visited her young cousin Mary. The angel announced, "You will conceive and give birth to a son!" Mary was a little upset by this. "Wait! What?" she protested. "I'm still a virgin!" (See Luke 1.34.) There was no doubt strange things were happening!
The angel assured her that all was well. She wouldn't lose her virginity. Yet she would give birth to a baby boy who would be called the Son of God. These words terrified Mary, but she gulped and maintained her composure (see Luke 1.38).
Mary said to the angel:
Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord;
Let it be done to me, according to your word.
Dixit Maria ad angelum:
Ecce ancilla Domini,
fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.
Composer Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612) put these remarkable words of Mary to music centuries ago. And the Choir will sing them Christmas Eve in the Sanctuary.
Sun13Jan20199:15 & 11:00 AMSanctuary
In a sermon at General Assembly, 2016, Rev Nancy McDonald Ladd lamented the "fake fights we waste our time on," like "what color to paint the church bathroom." Elsewhere, there are people struggling against injustice. We create our turf, plant our flag, insist that we do this thing according to these rules. Others may have no turf, nor a flag to plant, nor even a single rule to protect them.
The truth is we all struggle, some more than others, but when we bind each other's wounds, we grow stronger, and we heal.
From the crush of wealth and power something broken in us all
Waits the spirit's silent hour pleading with a poignant call,
Bind all my wounds again.
Even now our hearts are wary of the friend we need so much.
When I see the pain you carry, shall I, with a gentle touch,
bind all your wounds again?
When our love for one another makes our burdens light to bear,
find the sister and the brother, hungry for the feast we share;
bind all their wounds again.
Ev'ry time our spirits languish terrified to draw too near,
May we know each other's anguish and, with love that casts out fear,
Bind all our wounds again.
Composer Peter Cutts, and lyricist Kendyl Gibbons are responsible for this illuminating piece which the choir will sing Sunday the 13th under the direction of Sadie Sonntag.
Sun27Jan20199:15 AM onlySanctuary
Sunday the 27th, the Choir will perform a piece composed by Mark A Miller to words from an anonymous Jewish poem. We will also sing a short work by Doug Bowes. In keeping with the Theme of Grace and the Topic of Everyone Belongs, the short piece is titled "Grace".
Let all of us around the table remember those who have the least,
And do whatever we are able, that everyone may join the feast.
The longer piece is called "I Believe". It is not the one made famous in 1953 by Frankie Laine. This one has simpler words.
I believe in the sun even when it's not shining.
I believe in love even when I don't feel it.
I believe in God even when God is silent.
We all believe in things, even though the details of our beliefs differ. The one unifying principle in Unitarian Universalism is that everyone belongs. We all have a place at the table. We all have a right and a purpose on this planet. We all need grace.
If you’re interested in singing with us, rehearsals are on Thursday nights from 7-8:30pm, and all fun-loving people who want to sing are welcome! To learn more about the choir, talk to a choir member during Coffee Hour after any Sunday service or contact Sadie here. Come to a rehearsal Thursday evening during the season, and we’ll all make music together.