Music for Hope and Celebration

by Kerry Dexter /
Kerry Dexter's picture
Feb 17, 2020 / 0 comments

Dark and light, hard news and good news, in public life and in personal circumstance, always shift and change. It is vital to balance hard and discouraging with good and hopeful; that's what makes it possible to seek hope in challenging times, and to share that seeking and finding with others. As other musicians have through the music we have shared thus far in this series, and these artists do here.

Music for Hope and Celebration

Rosanne Cash and her husband and musical partner John Leventhal were working on what would become her album The River and The Thread. They had the idea, Cash recalled, of a recording that "ties past and present together through all those people and places in the south I knew and thought I had left behind." As they were working on the songs, Leventhal pointed out that they did not have a gospel song "and you can't have an album about the south without a gospel song," Cash said. This take on the idea, a song called Tell Heaven, was the result.

Amy Grant is well familiar with traditional and contemporary hymns and gospel songs: She's made her career in faith based music. Along that way, she's faced controversy and challenge in her career and in her life. As she continues in a calling to a public life music which began in her teenage years and has spanned nearly for decades, reflection, maturity, and change inform her songwriting and her performance. These are present in the medley she creates of the hymn It is Well with My Soul and The River's Gonna Keep on Rolling. You may find this recorded on her album Be Still and Know.

Better Than War is peace anthem of sorts, one that seems especially timely. Emily Smith and Jamie McClennan came across it on a visit to family in New Zealand (he's from New Zealand; she's from Scotland). It is a song written by New Zealand folk musician Willow Macky in the 1960s. Smith and McClennan, each with well respected solo careers, were working on the idea of a duo album, a recording which would become Small Town Stories. Each of the songs on the album benefits from their close collaboration and well tuned harmonies. Smith and McClennan are also raising two young children together. For parents and all who care about the shifting times of the world, Better Than War seems both timely as wise.

Smith & McClennan Small Town Stories album cover

Hope and celebration: there's need for those, need to make time and take time for both those whatever other circumstance may exist. The band Mànran, who are from Scotland, well know how to evoke these. The video footage of Scotland's North Coast 500 (created by Sean Grieve) and the song Thugainn work together to offer a spirit of journey, connection, and love.

Part of the lyrics, which are in Scottish Gaelic, translate as

Oh come along with me
Come along beside me
I'd like to be at ease in the presence of your smile
Come along with me.

The band have released Thugainn (the word means come with me in Scottish Gaelic) as a stand alone single in advance of Sean Grieve's film about the North Coast 500, for which it forms part of the soundtrack

May this music, and the other songs we've shared in this series, serve you well as you make your way through shifting times.


Thank you for staying with us through this journey. Below, you'll find a link that will take you to an article which has a bit more backstory on the series. It also has links to a number of the stories, including ones called Listening for Community, Music for Winter's Changes, and The Geography of Hope.

Music for Shifting Times

Music for Shifting Times




Kerry Dexter is Music Editor at Wandering Educators. You may reach Kerry at music at wanderingeducators dot com.

You may find more of Kerry's work in National Geographic Traveler, Strings, Perceptive Travel, Journey to Scotland, Irish Fireside, and other places, as well as at her own site, Music Road.