Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Hymns Old and New -- How Can I Keep from Singing?

Faith, hope and joy in the face of adversity is the theme of the old Quaker hymn How Can I Keep from Singing? It was written in the 1860s and then fell into obscurity, but the hymn enjoyed a popular revival 100 years later when folksinger Pete Seeger recorded it. Seeger omitted or modifed most of its overtly Christian references and popularized it as a protest song against the McCarthy era's anti-communist witch hunts. In the 1990s, Enya recorded a New Age version of it on her album Shepherd Moons and brought it to the attention of a whole new generation.

One of my favourite Canadian singer/songwriters, David Sereda, has recently posted his beautiful a cappella version of this hymn, which I just love. Here's the audio post, if you'd like to have a listen:



David Sereda's own songs are about gay life, pride, love and survival. I'm sure he intends a similar interpretation for the hymn's lines -- "When friends by shame are undefiled / How can I keep from singing?"

27 comments:

jaz@octoberfarm said...

how pretty!

mxtodis123 said...

Very nice. Thanks for sharing this with us. You always have something good to enjoy while I have my morning coffee.
Mary

Miss Val's Creations said...

What a beautiful song. Sereda has an amazing voice! It takes real talent to sing a cappella. I will have to pull out my Shepherd Moons CD. I haven't listened to it in years! I went through a huge Enya phase in the early 90s.

Kestril Trueseeker said...

Oh, what a gorgeous voice! I think I'll need to seek more by this artist!

Pickleope Von Pickleope said...

Nope, I refuse. No a cappella, learn how to play an instrument. At least a kazoo. (in all seriousness, it is pretty)

The Happy Whisk said...

Good post and interesting. I cannot hear sound from where I am, but I will be back.

Laurie M said...

beautiful!

DEZMOND said...

I do love Enya so much!

Jeanne said...

I had heard the song sung by Pete Seeger and had no idea that it was a 'sanitized' hymn! I really like the a capella version.

Adam said...

Speaking of McCarthy, is it any surprise that Ted Cruz shares a resemblance both in appearance and political stupidity?

Linda Wildenstein said...

Beautiful hymn to share. There are some hymns that flood my mind with such fond and full memories of my younger life. I will forever be grateful that I have all manner of music in my soul. Thanks for the share of this beautiful voice and hymn. Oma Linda

Jim said...

Debra, thank you.

Lois said...

Thank you Debra! I love how we can adjust the old to suit the new, putting fresh energy and wisdom into the old. And YOU ARE AN ARTIST! We all are, in different ways. Absolutely. :)

Leeanna said...

Beautiful voice and song. Wow! Thank you for sharing.

young-eclectic-encounters said...

What a wonderful rendition- It reminds me of the Slave Spirituals. Great history of the hymn I think I will look up Pete Seeger's rendition
Thanks

Birdie said...

Enya! I love version of this song.

Missy George said...

Loved it..Thanks for sharing..

Plowing Through Life (Martha) said...

Beautiful, Debra! I didn't know David Sereda before today. What a powerful, profound voice he has. I also never heard Enya singing this tune even though I love her music. Good stuff!

Sparkless said...

Beautiful!

Sarah said...

Gorgeous!

Francie M said...

Beautiful! What a beautiful song - I certainly don't remember singing that in church. I am really going to enjoy this Debra, so I'm looking forward to the rest of this series!!

Dexter Klemperer said...

I find it fascinating how often that modern folk songs are just redone versions of much older songs with different words.

Magaly Guerrero said...

What a stunning voice...

theduchessofh said...

I have never heard this hymn. Beautiful, and very moving. Even my quaker parrot Gizmo was squawking along. He only reacts to music when he hears something he likes.

Riot Kitty said...

I haven't heard of that before. Very cool, actually, and I like the context with the modern singer.

Magic Love Crow said...

Beautiful voice and beautiful song! Actually, I have tears in my eyes! Very touching!

Frostbite and Sunburn said...

We've just sung this at out latest Spring concert. Didn't realize it was such an old song. Pretty version, and very different from ours!