Marilyn Haskel is a composer, choir director, organist and liturgist who has been a Presenter at Music that Makes Community events since the project's beginning.
"Cantemus pacem mundi. We sing for the peace of the world."
Composer Doug von Koss wrote this when teaching in Italy as Italians were marching to protest the United States invasion of Iraq. He wanted a strong musical statement that would “lift the desire for peace to a more assertive and active place.” He borrowed a melody he had heard in Canada and used this Latin phrase as the text.
Singing beyond the page allows us to connect musically and spiritually with each other because we listen more intently: adjusting volume, tuning pitches to our neighbors’ harmonies, fitting different rhythms together simultaneously. In a reverberant space the sound moves in a lively way throughout the room. Less effort is required individually to sing in such a room, but the ability to sing as an ensemble may be challenged.
The practice of reversing an inward-facing circle to face outward removes visual cues and encourages a group to rely more on aural perceptions – much as a visually challenged person develops acute listening skills. In this practice, the leader relinquishes the ability to tell the group when to complete the singing, leaving the singers to determine when the song is finished. The powerful silence following such practice heightens the sense of community especially when paired with a text that affirms a communal voice.
A goal of paperless music is to provide portable song that can be used in the moment it is needed and requires little teaching. People want to sing together at times when too much has been said or when there is nothing left to say but the heart is wanting more. One who is sensitive to such needs will be able to step forward confidently and lead this song.
To find more paperless songs of protest, check out the "Protest" filter under "Contexts and Gatherings" on our MMC Songs Database. You can also add your own songs of protest by clicking on "add a song."