Art, Poetry, Music, and Nature for the New Year
Thursday, January 7 2021
The Reverend Dr. Katie Snipes Lancaster
Lift up your eyes and look around; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far away, and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms. Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you. Isaiah 60:4–5
Whether the folk melody or the sweeping lyrics draw you in first, You Raise Me Up by Rolf Lovland and Brendan Graham holds a place in the sacred-secular milieu, having been performed at the Super Bowl, Olympic Games, and Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies, not to mention countless weddings, funerals, and worship services. Lovland (Norwegian) and Graham (Irish) may have been unlikely creative collaborators. Graham was known for his novel The Whitest Flower, about the Great Irish Famine of the nineteenth century, and Lovland sought him out to write the lyrics to the tune he had already composed. Lovland’s melody sounds older than it is, resembling the more traditional Danny Boy or Londonderry Air, and the text uses the word “you” in a way that could stand in for a friend, teacher, partner, parent, or child, or in more sacred contexts, turns us toward the divine.
In the winter of 2004, Josh Groban’s recording of You Raise Me Up made it to the top of the Billboard charts, and so it’s hard to imagine you didn’t hear Groban’s rendition, but at Kenilworth Union Church, we opt for this 2020 rendition arranged by our own Hunter Chang.
Raise us up, O God. Amen.
June 21 You Raise Me Up .. Rolf Løvland, Arr. Hunter Chang
When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary
When troubles come and my heart burdened be
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence
Until You come and sit awhile with me.
You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders
You raise me up to more than I can be.