Go Out! (Individual Song)
A rousing song of commission with a message of inclusion and love
Music: Elizabeth Alexander
Words: Alfred S. Cole, as inspired by Rev. John Murray
Preaching a gospel of religious tolerance and unconditional love, the message of early American minister John Murray (1741-1815) is as relevant and refreshing today as it was during his own time. Alfred S. Cole’s oft-quoted rendering of Murray’s universalist gospel, with its “anti-hellfire-and-brimstone” message, is beloved by people of many faiths all around the world.
Elizabeth Alexander brings her Appalachian roots and inventive ear to this rousing song of commission, with sweet gospel harmonies, a soulful piano accompaniment, and an overlay of fierce compassion.
Note: This is the title song of the concert-length work Go Out!, a poetic and feisty tribute to liberal religion and freedom of thought.
“I love this piece. I’m also just tickled that you’ve found a way to set this text — such a classic, with obvious selling points, but so tricky to do well. You nailed it.” Jason Shelton, Music Director, First Unitarian Universalist Church (Nashville, TN)
Details and Ordering Information
About Rev. John Murray: Preaching a gospel of religious tolerance and unconditional love, the message of early American minister John Murray (1741-1815) is as relevant and refreshing today as it was during his own time.
While in training as a Methodist minister in England, Murray came to believe that salvation did not hinge on rigid adherence to religious law, but was instead granted to all through the grace of God. This notion of radical religious tolerance, called universalism, led many religious leaders to view Murray and his like-minded colleagues as heretics. Immigrating to America in search of religious freedom, he preached widely before founding a church in Gloucester, Massachusetts.
The church founded by Murray and others, The Universalist Church in America, merged with the American Unitarian Association in 1961, forming the denomination now known as Unitarian-Universalism. Today members of many faith traditions see Murray’s message of grace and acceptance as a vital part of creating a peaceful world.
About the lyric: Universalist minister Alfred S. Cole (1893-1977) wrote extensively about religious history, including a biography of John Murray cowritten with Clarence Skinner entitled Hell’s Ramparts Fell. Cole’s most enduring quote, which has been widely misattributed to Murray himself, rejects the concept of eternal damnation in favor of a gospel of forgiveness and love:
“Go out into the highways and by-ways of America, your new country. Give the people, blanketed with a decaying and crumbling Calvinism, something of your new vision. You may possess only a small light but uncover it, let it shine, use it in order to bring more light and understanding to the hearts and minds of men. Give them, not Hell, but hope and courage. Do not push them deeper into their theological despair, but preach the kindness and everlasting love of God.”
(Our Liberal Heritage by Alfred S. Cole. Beacon Press, Boston, 1951)
A final note about the lyric: Cole’s writing opens with a reference to the Parable of the Great Banquet (Luke 14:16-24), a story which lies at the very heart of universalist philosophy. In the parable, a man of means opens his feast to more and more guests until at last he invites absolutely everyone with no discrimination. He instructs his servant to “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.”
Go out into the highways and by-ways
And give the people something of your new vision.
You may possess only a small light, but uncover it and let it shine.
Use it to bring more understanding into every heart and mind.*
Give them not hell, but hope and courage.
Do not push them deeper into their despair,
But preach the kindness and the everlasting love of God.
Text by Alfred S. Cole, after Rev. John Murray. Excerpted from Our Liberal Heritage (Beacon Press)
Adapted by Elizabeth Alexander
* Composer Note: Cole’s original line was “Use it in order to bring more understanding to the hearts and minds of men.” I
don’t often alter a writer’s original words, but in this case the text’s “universalist” nature called for a gentle gender-neutral tweak.
Premiere: Choir of First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville / Jason Shelton (Nashville, TN)
Arizona Unitarian Universalist Choral Festival / Elizabeth Alexander (Chandler, AZ)
Arizona/Nevada Unitarian Universalist Choir Fest / Kellie Walker (Chandler, AZ)
Choir of Allen Avenue Unitarian Universalist Church / Dale Churchill (Portland, ME)
Choir of Arlington Street Church / Mark Buckles. Ordination of Rev. Rebecca Froom (Boston, MA)
Choir of Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church / Henry Sgrecci (Bethesda, MD)
Choir of Countryside Church Unitarian Universalist / Jeff Hamrick (Palatine, IL)
Choir of First Parish in Needham / Irina Georgieva . Installation of Rev. Catie Scudera (Needham, MA)
Choir of First Unitarian Church of Chicago / Jeff Hamrick (Chicago, IL)
Choir of First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia / Jen Hayman (Philadelphia, PA)
Choir of First Unitarian Church of Portland, OR / Mark Slegers (Portland, OR)
Choir of First Unitarian Universalist Church of Des Moines / Moira Leu (Des Moines, IA)
Choir of First Unitarian Universalist Church of Houston / Jason Oby (Houston, TX)
Choir of First Unitarian Universalist Church of Richmond / Diane Woodruff (Richmond, VA)
Choir of First Unitarian Universalist Church of Rochester / Joe Mish (Rochester, MN)
Choir of First Unitarian Universalist Society in Newton / Ann Watson Born (Newton, MA)
Choir of Hillsboro Unitarian Universalist Church / Susan Peck (Hillsboro, OR)
Choir of Holston Valley UU / Teresa Sandoval (Gray, TN)
Choir of Peoples Church / Jennifer Drake (Kalamazoo, MI)
Choir of Plymouth Congregational Church / Sonja Thompson (Minneapolis, MN)
Choir of Seoseong Church / Samuel Choi (Daegu, SOUTH KOREA)
Choir of Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church / Dave Simmons (Lenexa, KS)
Choir of the Unitarian Univeralist Church of Phoenix / Connie Jahrmarkt (Phoenix, AZ)
Choir of Unitarian Church of Los Alamos / Nylea Butler-Moore (Los Alamos, NM)
Choir of Unitarian Universalist Church of Brookfield / Ruben Piirainen (Brookfield, WI)
Choir of Unitarian Universalist Church of Grand Traverse / Kevin Tarsa (Traverse City, MI)
Choir of Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashua / Jed Holland (Nashua, NH)
Choir of Unitarian Universalist Church of the South Hills / Carol Karl. Pittsburg Unitarian Universalist Cluster Assembly (Pittsburgh, PA)
Choir of Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Hillsboro, OR / Alison Wilski (Hillsboro, OR)
Choir of Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta / Donald Milton III (Atlanta, GA)
Choir of Unity Church-Unitarian of Saint Paul / Ruth Palmer (St. Paul, MN)
Choir of UU Church in Brunswick / Heidi Neufeld (Brunswick, ME)
Choir of UU Congregation of Monmouth County / Louise Chernosky (Lincroft, NJ)
Choir of Valley Unitarian Universalist Church / Kellie Walker (Chandler, AZ)
Choir of West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church / Dave Blazer (Rocky River, OH)
Choirs of First Parish of Sudbury & UU Church of Reading / Debra Morris-Bennett & Mary Cunningham (Sudbury, MA)
General Assembly Choir. Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly (Providence, RI)
Jason Shelton, tenor and Elizabeth Alexander, piano. Unitarian Universalist Musicians Network National Conference (Madison, WI)
MDUU Festival Choir / Beth Dion. Unitarian Universalist Mountain Desert District Conference (Ogden, UT)
Sunnyhill Adult Choir of the Unitarian Universalist Church of South Hills / Carol Karl. UU Pittsburgh Cluster Assembly (Pittsburgh, PA)
Walden Hill Vocal Ensemble / Joe Mish (Rochester, MN)