I had the unique opportunity of presenting some of the songs from the AEU Songbook, entitled The Power and Joy of Community Singing
, at the June 2011 AEU Assembly in Columbus, Ohio. An ad hoc
group, the All Ethical Singers, led the audience in several lively sing-alongs. Leader Bart Worden accompanied us on his guitar, and Jo London, the chorus director of the Washington Ethical Society, directed the singers.
A mix of traditional and contemporary songs was featured. On the contemporary side, we sang “I Will Sing,” a lively tune written by Bev Grant who was inspired by a poem written by Felicity Frisbie, a member of her Brooklyn Women’s Chorus. For traditional songs there was Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” and a 1950s song that was sung in East Coast Societies and the St. Louis Society called “Welcome, Welcome!”
The songbook, which will be available early 2013, has three editors: Joan Klips is the literary editor, and Debra Stieglitz and Roy Byrd are the music editors. Bart Worden is the leader-advisor for the book. Our goal is to convey the unique heritage and achievements of the Ethical Culture Movement since the 1960s, as seen in a variety of traditional and contemporary songs that reflect our Humanist values. Some songs included are by Society members. A generous contribution of $1,000 from The Ethical Society of St. Louis will help us continue to share our musical heritage with the whole national Movement.
Do you love to sing? Various Societies (such as Brooklyn, New York, Northern Virginia, St. Louis, Washington, and Westchester) have choruses that meet regularly. Perhaps this songbook will inspire other Societies to develop choruses as well. Also, please consider turning your passion for singing into meaningful action by contributing to the AEU Songbook Fund to support the publishing of the songbook. Checks may be made out to the AEU (write AEU Songbook Fund on the memo line) and sent to the AEU Office at 2 West 64th Street Room 406, N.Y., N.Y. 10023.