Nelson Mandela: Musical Tributes & A Liturgy
1. A Liturgy of Remembrance for Nelson Mandela
This liturgy is based on the usual shape of worship of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa. It is, however, designed in a modular way so that the various parts of the liturgy may be re-arranged to suit other traditions or practices.
2. Nelson Mandela Passes: 10 Musical Tributes to the Iconic Political Figure
3. A special edition of RootsWorld Radio from the summer of 2013, that celebrated the life of Nelson Mandela. The first half of the program features Mandela in his own words, with music from South Africa and beyond.
4. South African Artists Celebrate the Life and Legacy of Nelson Mandela (AfroPop)
Future of Forestry - ‘O Holy Night’
Future of Forestry is a melodic ambient rock alternative band from Southern California, USA, which started in 2000 (under an earlier band name). The name “Future of Forestry” is taken from a poem by famed British author C. S. Lewis entitled “The Future of Forestry.”
Here’s their sweeping 8-minute version of "O Holy Night."
'Come To Us, Immanuel' - Ordinary Time
Ordinary Time, a band whose name is based on that part of the liturgical calendar, is a folk acoustic trio rooted in the Christian tradition
They met in a “History of Christian Worship” class in seminary, where they discovered a shared love for old songs in danger of being forgotten. The band’s oeuvre seamlessly weaves the hymns of generations past with their own new songs—often indistinguishably—producing a sound that ranges from bluegrass-tinged Americana to sacred harp hymn arrangements.
Here’s one of their original songs for Advent that I really like:
Come to us, Immanuel
We wait for thee with bated breath
And hope filled hearts
And anxious minds
Longing to see your face
And worship at your feet
Isaiah’s vision didst unfold
When you descended into this world
to bring good news
and set the prisoners free
you set aside eternity
so that we might live
so come to us Imannuel
we live in hope of your return
to bring new life
to this old world
to end all wars and to heal all hearts
and to reign forevermore
to reign forevermore
Words and music by Peter La Grand
for just a dime!
The whole album is great! Get it at
Take 3 - a twist on We Three Kings (Bob Evans)
Bob Evans writes, “My imagining of what We Three Kings might have sounded like at Christmas time around the household of the great jazz pianist Dave Brubeck.”
A free mp3 and transcription of this arrangement is available at his website:
'In the Bleak Midwinter' - Lily & Madeleine
Lily and Madeleine have always had a soft spot for the holiday season. The sister folk duo who broke big on YouTube early this year say family sing-alongs (with their mom on piano) were a common occurrence. “Sometimes we’d even come up with crazy three-part harmonies,” said Madeleine Jurkiewicz, the older of the two sisters.
Here’s their performance of “In The Bleak Midwinter.” Based on a seventeenth-century poem by the English poet Christina Rossetti, the seminal Christmas tune is a longtime favorite of the girls’ mother. “She encouraged us to sing it,” Lily added. “I remember listening to her play it on the piano when we were young.”
In the bleak mid-winter / Frosty wind made moan, / Earth stood hard as iron, / Water like a stone;/ Snow had fallen, snow on snow,/ Snow on snow, / In the bleak mid-winter / Long ago.
Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him / Nor earth sustain; / Heaven and earth shall flee away / When He comes to reign: / In the bleak mid-winter / A stable-place sufficed / The Lord God Almighty, / Jesus Christ.
Enough for Him, whom cherubim / Worship night and day, / A breastful of milk / And a mangerful of hay; / Enough for Him, whom angels / Fall down before, / The ox and ass and camel / Which adore.
Angels and archangels / May have gathered there, / Cherubim and seraphim / Thronged the air, / But only His mother / In her maiden bliss, / Worshipped the Beloved / With a kiss.
What can I give Him, / Poor as I am? / If I were a shepherd / I would bring a lamb, / If I were a wise man / I would do my part, / Yet what I can I give Him, / Give my heart.
In verse one, Rossetti describes the physical circumstances of the Incarnation in Bethlehem. In verse two, Rossetti contrasts Christ’s first and second coming. The third verse dwells on Christ’s birth and describes the simple surroundings, in a humble stable and watched by beasts of burden. Rossetti achieves another contrast in the fourth verse, this time between the incorporeal angels attendant at Christ’s birth with Mary’s ability to render Jesus physical affection.The final verse shifts the description to a more introspective thought process.
Bob Evans - Hark! It’s Harold’s Angels! Oh Joy!
A medley of two of the big guns in the Christmas carol canon, Hark The Herald Angels and Joy to the World, presented with a bit of tongue in cheek - instrumentally, of course, because it’s hard to sing with your tongue in your cheek.
A free transcription is available for the guitaristically inclined at
"Bob Evans is an award winning, Canadian finger-style guitarist and the 2003 U.S. National Fingerstyle Guitar Champion. He combines an eclectic mix of contemporary finger-style guitar and traditional roots music with a warm vocal style, tilted sense of humour and down to earth stage presence to provide a refreshing performance experience for music lovers in general.”
“Sing Hallelu” - E. Mitchell D. Littleton
Elizabeth Mitchell’s lovely new video for “Sing Hallelu” from the album “The Sounding Joy” features intricate harp accompanying Mitchell and husband Daniel Littleton’s harmonies.
"The Sounding Joy" available here: http://goo.gl/hcoMOt
The Sounding Joy is a spirited collection of folk carols drawn from Ruth Crawford Seeger’s 1953 songbook American Folk Songs for Christmas. Featuring Elizabeth Mitchell and a luminary list of her musical family, friends, and neighbors, this album celebrates the spirit of community and homespun traditions that existed in times before the commercialization of Christmas. Natalie Merchant, Aoife O’Donovan, Amy Helm, John Sebastian, Dan Zanes, Happy Traum, and many others including special guest Peggy Seeger all add their voices to pay tribute to a collection revered in the canon of American Music.
From the liner notes:
"Daniel thought the chords in this arrangement would sound beautiful on the harp. I have always loved the harp arrangements that Zeena Parkins did for Bjork, and I think that Ruth Crawford Seeger’s arrangements would sound right at home in such a modern, experimental music context."
Performed and recorded live at the The Pewter Shop at The Ashokan Center in Olivebridge, NY.
Angels We Have Heard on High (Christmas w/ 32 fingers and 8 thumbs)
The Piano Guys (and friends) present this creative arrangement, which has had 4 million views so far. They write,
ALL the sounds you hear were created by different parts of the piano (except the vocals of course).
We wanted this to be a fun music video full of “Christmas Spirit.” While the video primarily presents the “fun” side of Christmas (complete with cameo appearances by Christmas icons which “helped” us film), we wanted the music to portray what, to us, is the true meaning of the Holiday season. As we wrote it we imagined the “shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.” And how the Angel appeared to them, announcing the humble birth of the Savior of the World. How incredible it would have been when, “suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!” (Holy Bible, Luke Chapter 2)
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year. We love you!
Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus - Red Mountain Music
"Come Thou Long Expected Jesus" is an Advent carol. The music is by Rowland H. Prichard. Lyrics: vs. 1, 4 Charles Wesley, 1744 Text; vs. 2, 3 Mark E. Hunt, 1978 (©1978, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship)
This arrangement is by Red Mountain Music in their album "Silent Night" and sung by Ashley Spurling.
You can get the 2008 album download at
Connect the dots between the incarnation and the fight for justice
Austin Brown published a great blog post at
Here are some excerpts …
How must it have been for the Divine to look on the world not from a holy place above the fray, but eye to eye, quite literally with skin in the game, watching the ways we treat each other, divide ourselves up, create hierarchies, build towers of babel unto ourselves. How different it must have felt from home, from golden walkways and angelic beings, from hallelujah all the time.
But the Word didn’t turn away. Didn’t turn away from that ragtag group of disciples, passionate but often completely misunderstanding the mission. Didn’t turn away from men or women. Didn’t turn away from Jews or Gentiles, even those most unholy Samaritans or those oppressive Romans. Didn’t turn away from the sick or the afflicted. Even the dead received an audience with the Divine. The Word crashed through social barriers, religious convention, and everyone’s expectations.
Thats why I fight for justice issues. Because the Divine modeled for me far beyond words, even words that I love, that I can’t turn away from the messiness. The Word chose to dwell among us, but far from building an impressive throne right here, the Word wept, and experienced a range of emotions, rejections, disappointments and awe known to the human condition. The Word made flesh full of grace and truth, right here in our midst, wrestling with the issues of that day. Thats why I must wrestle with the issues of today. If the Divine didn’t turn away, how could I?
God incarnate. God with us. God among us. What better reason could my heart desire?
See her original blog post for the whole essay tying in these thoughts with John 1. Read more about Austin Brown and her ministry of racial reconciliation at