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A Curated List of Songs for Worship and Gathering

 

Singing is a significant part of our gatherings at West Hill United. My partner, Scott Kearns, has written most of the music that inspires our Sunday mornings. It’s been written for communities who choose values over religious beliefs in a decidedly contemporary tone (Scott’s a former evangelical and brings his musical roots with him). When we sing the music of traditional hymnody, new words have been written to the same purpose: uplifting our values and reminding one another and ourselves how it is we want to live.

When we realized because of COVID19 we couldn’t sing together, we refused to give up the use of music in our Gatherings; it is just too important. So we turned to the only source of music we thought could offer the same experience even if it didn’t involve singing along: YouTube. The greater part of my service preparation these days is watching YouTube videos and determining if they are inspirational enough for our gatherings. Or clean enough; I forgot to prepare the congregation for the F-bomb on one of the first Sundays we used music videos, I’ve warned them since. There are no holds barred in this important work.

Here are some of those songs. The first many find a focus in the earth and our relationship with it. Then, on May 31st, we fall into the abyss of racial injustice; we’re still falling. The themes grow out of the events of the day but are also linked to lectionary passages (for the following year). All the songs were chosen because they speak to the very real realities of these issues that currently face us: environmental devastation and its connection to our current pandemic situation, and the pain of recognizing white privilege, its power and its shame. We must find the courage to work with one another to dismantle it. May these songs find a place in your broken heart and invite you to the healing work we must undertake together.

 

Facing Change; Being Change
Sunday, March 15
Sanctuary, Carrie Newcomer
What the World Needs Now, Sarah Barreilles
Stand by Me, Playing for Change

 

Looking Inward
Sunday, March 22
The Power of a Dream, Celine Dion, 1996 Olympics
Return to Love, Andrea Bocelli and Elli Goulding

 

What would it take to make you yell, “Stop”?
Sunday, March 29
Speechless, Cover by Rise Up Children’s Choir
Face Brave, Jonathan Roy

 

Remote Dreaming, the first part of our two part, Easter Story-inspired services
Sunday, April 5, Palm Sunday
A Million Dreams, Mat and Savanna Shaw, from The Greatest Showman
A Simple Love, Melissa Etheridge
Dreamers, Jack Savoretti
Wild Hearts Can’t be Broken, Sung by P!nk

 

Remote Dreaming, the second part of our two-part Easter-inspired services
Sunday, April 12, Easter Sunday
Elegy for the Victims of the Tsunami of March 11, 2011 in Japan, Nobuyuki Tsujii
Sound of Silence, Pentatonix
Rise Up, Andra Day

 

Being Light for the World (Earth Day)
Sunday, April 26
What A Wonderful World, Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello in isolation
I Need Another World, Antony and the Johnsons
The Greatest, James Blunt

 

Systems Overwrite: Breaking Our Vows
Sunday, May 10
Light the Sky, Grace Vanderwaal
Break the Shell, India Arie
When HipHop Meets Ballet, Lucas Cantor, Dan Martinez, Thomas Parisch

 

You: Embodiment of the Tree of Life
Sunday, May 17
Glorious, Macklemore Featuring Skylar Grey
Wake Me Up, Aloe Blacc
This Is Me, Kesha, from The Greatest Showman

 

The Peril of Being You
Sunday, May 31
Imagine, Doctor Elvis Francois
Change is Gonna Come, Sam Cooke
Written in Scars, Jack Savoretti
You are not alone, Emeli Sandé

We Are All Here and We Are All Crazy
Crazy, Gnarls Barkley
Heat Wave, Mereba
Stand Up, Cynthia Erivo from the movie Harriet

 

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The Rev. Gretta Vosper is a United Church of Canada minister who is an atheist. Her best-selling books include With or Without God: Why The Way We Live is More Important Than What We Believe, and Amen: What Prayer Can Mean in a World Beyond Belief. She has also published three books of poetry and prayers. Visit her website here.

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