The Music of Elizabeth Alexander

We Lift Up Our Hearts

An intergenerational song of thanksgiving appropriate for religious or secular occasions

Words by Richard Fewkes

Richard Fewkes’ prayer of thanksgiving rings simple and true, from its very first words: “For the sun and the dawn, which we did not create, we lift up our hearts in thanks.” This lyrical setting offers the children’s choir a gracious stand-alone melody, with a well-crafted descant for the adults. Appropriate for intergenerational or combined choirs, in any interfaith setting, at any time of year.

Adults and children may easily learn their parts separately, combining them at a dress rehearsal.

Details and Ordering Information

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Composer Notes

Composer Notes

My family has spoken Richard M. Fewkes’ blessing as our table grace for the past 20 years. This is no small praise, for I brought an exhaustive set of criteria to this choir! The grace needed to be approachable to young children, beautiful in language and form, and appropriate for a guest of any faith. It was such a pleasure to set Fewkes words to music so that I could share his simple, elegant prayer with others.

Text

We Lift Up Our Hearts

For the sun and the dawn which we did not create;
For the moon and the evening which we did not design;
For food which we plant but cannot grow;
For friends and loved ones we have not earned and cannot buy;
For all gifts which come from a source beyond ourselves,
We lift up our hearts in thanks.


Original prayer by Richard Fewkes:

For the sun and the dawn which we did not create;
For the moon and the evening which we did not make;
For food which we plant but cannot grow;
For friends and loved ones we have not earned and cannot buy;
For this gathered company which welcomes us as we are,
from wherever we have come;
For all our free churches that keep us human
and encourage us in our quest for beauty, truth, and love;
For all things which come to us as gifts of being from sources beyond ourselves;
Gifts of life and love and friendship
We lift up our hearts in thanks this day.

Poem by Richard Fewkes
Adapted by Elizabeth Alexander
© by Richard M. Fewkes. Reprinted by permission

Performers

Performers

Premiere: Choirs of First Unitarian Parish of Norwell, MA / Bernadette Nadeau (Norwell, MA)
Bethlehem Regional Festival Choir / Joy Hirokawa. Bethlehem Regional Choral Festival (Bethlehem, PA)
Camerata Singers of Muskegon / Floyd Farmer (Muskegon and Grand Rapids, MI)
Choirs of Community Church of Chapel Hill / Glenn Mehrbach (Chapel Hill, NC)
Choirs of First Congregational Unitarian Church / Ray Bauwens (Harvard, MA)
Choirs of First Jefferson Unitarian Universalist Church of Forth Worth / Roy Redman (Fort Worth, TX)
Choirs of First Unitarian Church of Ithaca, NY / Elizabeth Alexander (Ithaca, NY)
Choirs of First Unitarian Church of Portland, OR / Mark Slegers (Portland, OR)
Choirs of First Unitarian Universalist Church of Des Moines / Moira Leu (Des Moines, IA)
Choirs of First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville / Jason Shelton (Nashville, TN)
Choirs of First Universalist Society of Hartland Four Corners / Patricia Talbot (Hartland Four Corners, VT)
Choirs of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Corvallis / Susan Peck (Corvallis, OR)
Choirs of Unitarian Church of Charleston / Martha Welch (Charleston, SC)
Choirs of Unitarian Society of Hartford / Mattie Banzhaf (Hartford, CT)
Choirs of Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte / Donna Fisher (Charlotte, NC)
Choirs of Unitarian Universalist Church of Eugene, OR / Tom Sears (Eugene, OR)
Choirs of Unitarian Universalist Church of Savannah / Kelly Blackmarr Carlile (Savannah, GA)
Choirs of Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Gainesville / Ruth Lewis. Alternative Thanksgiving Celebration (Gainesville, FL)
Choirs of Unitarian Universalist Society of Greater Springfield / Elizabeth Weber (Springfield, MA)
Choirs of Unitarian Universalist Society of Sacramento / Mike Reynolds (Sacramento, CA)
Choirs of Unity Church-Unitarian of Saint Paul / Ruth Palmer (St. Paul, MN)
Potomac School Choruses / Jerry Rich (Arlington, VA)
Saint Paul Vocal Forum / Karin Barrett (Roseville and Columbia Heights, MN)
South Hadley Chorale and Children’s Chorus / Jonathan Harvey (South Hadley, MA)