Fighting Off the Winter Cold Concert - redux
About midway through our coming "Fighting Off the Winter Cold" concert this Sunday, we'll sing and play an arrangement of "Shalom Chaverim." I first heard this off an old Weaver's Live at Carnegie Hall album decades ago. Last summer and fall, as my faith community began to study and discuss the current impasse in the tragic histories of Palestine and Israel, I had a hunch that we might be able to adapt this old Jewish blessing. With a little prayer and some experimentation, I came up with "Shalom/Salaam" - mixing the first line of the Hebrew blessing with the first line of the Arabic greeting: "As-Salaam Alaikum." Structurally the two languages and faith traditions intertwine when we sing it as a round with one ending where the other begins. It works like this:
Shalom chaverim, shalom chaverim, shalom, salaam
Salaam alaikum, salaam alaikum, salaam, shalom.
My colleague and partner in ministry, Carlton Maaia II, had previously written a moving and very savvy jazz arrangement of the old Hebrew melody. So, when I shared with him my intention with this as a sung prayer, he suggested we add the jazz dimension to it in order to take the meaning to a deeper level. Now it is a mixture of old and new, jazz and folk, structured and improvisational, Hebrew and Arabic all sung in our Christian context. Serendipitously, we'll be singing/sharing it as part of this Sunday's concert.
Even before the tragic murders in Paris, I sensed it was wise to keep this song in the set: now I know why. Fr. Richard Rohr wrote this morning about the necessity of religion moving into what Matthew Fox calls "deep ecumenism" - a commitment to live beyond our tribal pasts - lest we lose any role in the healing and repair of the world. In his reflection he quotes Rumi (among others) who was doing in the 13th century what I have been called towards in the 21st.
For those in love,
Moslem, Christian and Jew do not exist...
Why listen to those who see it another way?
If they're not in love - their eyes do not exist.
Part of our concert on Sunday, therefore, will be our take on Leonard Bernstein's famous commitment to music:
This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely,
More beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.
Please, come out and join us.