The Music of Elizabeth Alexander

We Give Thanks for Being

A song of gratitude and community for all ages

Music: Elizabeth Alexander

Words: Traditional

An exuberant song of gratitude and joy for all ages. Based on a simple, universal prayer appropriate for any religious or secular occasion, this song celebrates cherished communities with people both far and near.

This flexibly-voiced choral song is designed to be sung in 1, 2, 3 or 4 parts (depending on who shows up at choir practice).

To learn about the backgound on this song, scroll down to the composer notes below!

Details and Ordering Information

Tell me more

Composer Notes

Composer Notes

“We give thanks for being. We give thanks for being here. We give thanks for being here together.”

These three simple lines make up one of the first prayers taught to young children in my church. The immediacy and openheartedness in these words is also beloved by many adults, calling them out of their daily worries and distractions and into conscious presence. There’s no solemn invocation or flowery language here. Instead, the prayer gets right to the point, weaving thankfulness, community and covenant together into something you can slip into your pocket and carry around with you all day long. If you ask me, that’s a pretty decent foundation for a solid gratitude practice and a contemplative life.

Because I composed this piece for my own congregation in 2021 during the coronavirus pandemic, I thought a great deal about what it means to be “together.” I suspected that many congregants would not be able to attend the song’s live, in-person premiere. That’s why the final measures consist of unsynchronized individual voices, affirming community with one another despite being separated by time and space.

As you sing this song’s final measures, listen deeply and fully. Find your own rhythm, pitches and inflection. Revel in the rich collage of voices all around you. Look up and connect with someone else through a lifted gaze, a generous thought, or a meaningful touch.


We give thanks for being.
We give thanks for being here.
We give thanks for being here together.




PREMIERE: Unity Church-Unitarian / Ahmed Anzaldúa (St. Paul, MN)