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Introduction to We Sing of Life and We Speak of Life

We Sing of Life: Songs for Children, Young People, & Adults

Vincent Silliman, Editor  |   Irving Lowens, Music Editor  |  Edward A. Karr, Calligraphy

We Sing of Life and We Speak of Life are  two liturgical resources that were published in the 1950s as a joint project of the Unitarian and Ethical Culture traditions, with involvement from Beacon Press, Starr King Press, and the American Ethical Union. Although they are primarily meant for young people, they can be used by people and congregations of all ages.

From the Introduction:

This is a book of songs of life. They are religious without being sectarian: they sing the realities of man’s experience and vitalizing purpose. They express the feeling of at-homeness in the world and the human values of truth, beauty and goodness.

These songs are gathered and selected especially for young children, although scores of them are equally suited for adult assemblies. The thoughts are drawn from the poets and philosophers and religious leaders of the past and present. Their continuity with traditional religions and with a great variety of cultural influences is exemplified in Christina hymns and carols, songs of Judaism, a Zuni morning prayer, and an invocation to the forces of nature from the Quechua Indians of the Andes.

The work of brining together and editing these songs has been done by Vincent B. Silliman, Unitarian minister and specialist in liberal hymnody and liturgy, and Irving Lowens, composer and musicologist. Mr. Silliman brings to this work years of experience in the gathering of songs which meet the needs of different ages and express the spirit of liberal religious thought, and in the matching of tune and lyric.

The task of musical arrangement has been the special and creative contribution of Mr. Lowens. His researches in hymnal and folk music, together with those of Mr. Silliman, have brought together a rare group of songs of beauty.

 Permission to reproduce was granted by the American Ethical Union Copyright 1955: The American Ethical Union Library Catalog Number 54:11625.

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