This new musical setting of a Shaker text is by organist and composer Daniel Schwandt. It was written at a Music that Makes Community Composers Retreat in Brattleboro, VT in 2013. It has been used in many different contexts: as a call to prayer, for Ash Wednesday and during the Lenten season, for services of healing and reconciliation, and even at funerals or graveside services.
The melody has strong call and echo features, and some leaders teach the song this way. Others line it out line by line, adding simple movements to help the group better remember the text.
"Lay me low, where the Lord can find me.
Lay me low, where the Lord can *own me.
Lay me low, where the Lord can bless me.
Lay me low, oh, lay me low."
*MMC leaders frequently substitute 'hold' for 'own.' We find the original word carries baggage painful to many, especially communities of color with direct connection to the American history of chattel slavery. We honor the Shaker tradition from which the song emerges while also seeking to name and heal painful legacies of oppression.
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