What is your favorite Unitarian Universalist hymn?
Joel Araujo, intern minister at Miami Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Dayton, Ohio, and AmyBeth Gibbs, of BuxMont UU Fellowship in Warrington, Pennsylvania, both said their favorite hymn is “We’ll Build a Land” (hymn #121). Araujo wrote: “It’s the hymn that best displays our Judeo-Christian heritage and places it within the Principles and Purposes of our current denomination. Plus I’m a very low bass baritone, so this is one of the few hymns I can really belt out with gusto.” Gibbs said the hymn was sung during the first UU service she ever attended. “It gave me the comfort of a perfectly ‘churchy’ sound, with words that actually spoke to my heart and my hopes. By the third verse I was joyfully singing! When I left that service, the tune followed me. It took a few more visits to be sure, but I had finally found a faith where I belong.”
When Christine M. Cahill, who answered via Facebook, first joined the UU Church of Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, she says she missed the hymns of her Catholic childhood, “but ‘Spirit of Life’ (#123) has become a favorite of mine. It fills me with joy and peace. I wish there were more verses.”
Ranwa Hammamy, of First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia, chose the Quaker round “Building Bridges” (#1023). “Its message is a unifying celebration of diversity, reminding us that each of us brings something special to our world, and that together we can create something beautiful. . . . It recognizes that while we have our differences, they are not irreconcilable. It reminds us that we will only stop working together when we stop reaching out to one another.”
Kimberley Debus, of the UU Congregation of Saratoga Springs, New York, likes “In My Quiet Sorrow” (#1006) because “it is elegant, gentle, and speaks beyond its lyrics to our hearts. In this simple yet powerful song, I feel the loving arms of my community and my God around me.”
Veronica Hosking, of the UU Church of Surprise, Arizona, likes “Let It Be a Dance” (#311) because “we should remember to dance through life.”
Mary Orem, of the UU Fellowship of Clemson, South Carolina, declared “Come, Sing a Song with Me” (#346) her “all-time favorite” because it “illustrates the ways in which we can bring color into one another’s lives even at the dreariest time of year or difficult periods in our lives.”
April Ashland, of Cache Valley UUs in Logan, Utah, chose “Gather the Spirit” (#347) because “I love the way it sounds when lots of people sing it, and I can feel the love of everyone around me.”
Becky Trombly-Freytag, of Dupage UU Church in Naperville, Illinois, and Peoples UU Church of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, likes “Blue Boat Home” (#1064) because “the words helped ease my way into being away from my family and congregation at college, reminding me that, no matter where I was, I was home.”
The question also prompted a flurry of responses on UU World’s Facebook page, where these were the most frequently mentioned hymns:
Top 10 most popular UU hymns on Facebook
Let us know your thoughts; leave a comment below.
For the next issue: If your congregation holds a water communion service in the fall, where will you bring water from this summer? Send your answer to world [at] uua [dot] org?subject=Voices: water communion" target="_blank">world [at] uua [dot] org.
A shorter version of this article appeared in the Spring 2013 issue of UU World (pages 12–13). Hymn numbers below 1000 appear in Singing the Living Tradition; hymn numbers 1000 and higher appear in Singing the Journey.
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Sonja L. Cohen is deputy managing editor of UU World and a lifelong Unitarian Universalist.
In praise of praise
Yes, even now, / when so much is struggle: / Praise bodies that sweat and tremble
In hopes of traveling light
Some people seek balance and stability, but I like to be off-kilter.