Music and Horizons: Stories of Hope

by Kerry Dexter /
Kerry Dexter's picture
Jun 19, 2019 / 0 comments

Early summer: it's often a season of weddings, graduations, changes, endings, new beginnings. The shifting world situations which were at the beginnings of this series of articles continue to evolve and present their own challenges, too. With those things in mind, here are five pieces of music to spark and accompany reflection, contemplation, celebration, and hope.

Music and Horizons: Stories of Hope

Sarah-Jane Summers is a fiddle player, composer, and educator who grew up in the Highlands of Scotland. She lives now in Norway, and she's long been fascinated by the connections between Scotland and the Nordic world, and the connections among their languages and musics. When she was invited to compose a selection of music to present at the Celtic Connections Festival  in Glasgow, she thought how to create music about words in Scots that came over from old Norse. The result is her album Owerset. On it you will find The Handfasting/Handfesta. In medieval times wrapping a couple's hands together with cloth or ribbon signified engagement, and later on, marriage -- a word and a custom shared across much of northern Europe. This strong yet gentle tune from Summers seems well suited to begin things at a time of year when weddings and wedding anniversaries are frequent. Such commitments are, of course, markers of hope and trust.

Hope is also a feature, if an indirect one, of of the song Faoiseamh a Gheobhadsa/I Will Find Solace. It was written by Máirtín Ó Direáin and is sung here in Irish by Zoe Conway, with John McIntyre on guitar and Zoe picking up her fiddle for a bit, as well. John and Zoe have recorded the song on their fine collaborative project with Julie Fowlis and Eamon Doorley, an album called Allt. Part of the lines translate as

I will find solace
A short while
Amongst my people
On a sea island
....In the west at home

Kate Rusby wrote the song Walk the Road. Cathie Ryan says "This song is so full of hope. I love singing it! Thank you Kate for saying it so beautifully." Ryan chose the title for the album on which she recorded it from part of a line in the song. The album is called Through Wind & Rain
The chorus is

All the way through wind and rain
I'll never deceive my heart again
Hand in hand, across the land
We'll walk the road together

Listen to the verses, too -- they are also eloquent expressions of hope.

Maid o' the Loch may seem a bit of an outlier here, as some of the words conjure up images of autumn -- but then again the turn of seasons is one place to find hope. The singer here is Eddi Reader. Her husband, John Douglas, wrote the song. They were inspired by the story of the ship Maid o' the Loch, which sailed Loch Lomond for many decades before falling into disrepair. People have begun working on its restoration, however, and progress is being made. There's more about the Maid o' the Loch -- the ship, that is -- at this link. You may find the song recorded on Eddi Reader's album Cavalier.

The band Breabach, from Scotland, decided to bring together a tune and a song, both drawing on Scottish tradition, yet both newly composed. They called the set Knees Up, after the tune Knees Up in Hanoi, composed by band member Calum MacCrimmon. It is paired with the song Dòchas Glan Na Fàire, sung by Megan Henderson, who is also a member of Breabach. The song was written by MacCrimmon and by Megan's brother, Ewan Henderson. The set celebrates the rewards of travelling new roads as well as the importance of revisiting the old ones, the band members agree. Part of the lyrics (which are in Scottish Gaelic) translate as

The road must be taken.
Living in the pure hope of the horizon
Until the day breaks.

The video they chose to make celebrates the ideas of journey and connection as well. You may find the set recorded on Breabach's album Frenzy of the Meeting.

Living in pure hope of the horizon: that's a thread that pulls through the stories and ideas of this music, and indeed the music in this series, Music for Shifting Times. May the music and the words help you as you make your own journeys.

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.