Music for Winter's Changes

by Kerry Dexter /
Kerry Dexter's picture
Jan 15, 2018 / 0 comments

It is winter, just past the turning of the year. This is a time which in invites reflection, resolutions, thoughts of change, thoughts of what may come. Here is music which will be a good companion to you as you consider these things, in winter and at other times of year.

Music for Winter's Changes

Aine Minogue comes from County Tipperary, in Ireland. The harpist, singer, and composer has lived for some time in New England in the United States, as well. You may hear aspects of both places in the music she composes and chooses. Her most recent recording at this writing is called In the Name of Stillness, in which she offers a reflective journey through tunes both quiet and lively. Though Minogue doe not sing on this album, she offers words to go along with each composition, chosen from poets, songwriters, and others who inspire her. These she shares in the sleeve notes for the album, and as graphic elements in the videos she has created for each tune. This is the title track, In the Name of Stillness, with words about darkness giving way to the brighter shores of light, from Irish poet and philosopher John O'Donohue.

Part of reflection on change, and part of making changes, is loss and letting go. Reflection on that may clear the way and clear one's vision along the path. Scotland's Archie Fisher, who himself went to sea as a young man, saw rusting ships in the harbour in Thurso, in the north of Scotland. The Final Trawl is his reflection on that, sung here by top Irish musician Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh. Nic Amhlaoibh comes from the western part of the west of Ireland, the Dingle peninsula in  County Kerry, a place where the landscape itself knows a bit about reflection, and letting go, and the sea. Nic Amhlaoibh is as accomplished a singer in Irish as she is in English, and a gifted flute player as well. The Final Trawl is on her most recent solo album, Foxglove and Fuschia, where you can explore all of that.

There are times, in the midst of change, of taking stock, of the day to day of living in uncertain times, when what is necessary is to stop, to rest, to take sanctuary. That is an idea to which Carrie Newcomer gives poetic consideration in her song called Sanctuary. Among other things, Newcomer sings, "In a state of true believers, on streets called us and them, it's going to take some time before the world feels safe again..." You may find the song on her album The Beautiful Not Yet, and hear a recording of her singing it in concert on her album Live at the Buskirk Chumley Theater.

As much as reflection, making resolutions, and working through changes are individual challenges, they are all done in the context of community. Newcomer offers a thought-provoking look at solitude and community in her song A Light in the Window. She makes good use of the idea of winter, too -- the song was inspired by a late night drive home through the snowy ground of Newcomer's native Indiana after being on tour -- as she sings "Throwing out seeds on the winter snow/ as a cold wind begins to blow/ I can see a light, there's a light in the window..." This song, too is on Live at the Buskirk Chumley Theater, and also on the album A Permeable Life.

Whether it has a part in your faith story or not, Christmas is one of the great reminders to the world of hope, of connection, of renewal. Matt and Shannon Heaton drew together ideas from African American and Celtic traditions as they were thinking about how they'd sing Fisherman's Lullabye. It is a Christmas song, yes, but reaches beyond that, too. Listen as they sing about the persistence of hope: "When trials rise, sing gloria/When the world reels, sing gloria..." You may find Fisherman's Lullabye and other songs and tunes which resonate beyond the holiday season on their album Fine Winter's Night.



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 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