Crossing the Bar
Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1889 / choral setting by Gwyneth Walker, 2004 (E.C. Shirmer Music Co.),
arranged for solo voice by Diane Taraz, 2016
Tennyson wanted this poem to come last in all collections of his work. I enjoyed singing Gwyneth Walker's beautiful choral setting in my church choir, and just had to turn it into a solo piece.
All Along the Journey traditional American, "Shenandoah " / words by Diane Taraz, 2016
Like water, we change and yet remain ourselves in the phases of our lives. Keyboard master Larry Luddecke beautifully interprets each part of the endless circle. This melody is one of those elemental treasures that works its way into your soul.
Fiddler's Green John Conolly, 1966 (March Music Ltd.)
Here's to the place the fishermen go if they don't go to hell!
Fern Hill poem by Dylan Thomas, 1945 / music by Diane Taraz, 1980
The counterpoint to "Raisin Pie," which recalls my mother's childhood, Thomas' timeless poem evokes my father's youth on a dairy farm in Woodstock, Connecticut. He and his brother Ed ran their heedless ways through the house-high hay, getting into heaps of trouble -- including playing with matches in the barn, and setting a fire in the field in a childish plan to catch mice. It's amazing that I am here at all! This was recorded at Eric Kilburn's Wellspring Sound, long ago.
Normandy trad. Irish / words by Diane Taraz, 1989
Decades ago, I wrote these words on the back of a tissue box while driving to my newly found Unitarian Universalist church -- before I met my future spouse there. It was inspired by the broadcast of Bill Moyers' conversations with Joseph Campbell.
Wayfaring Stranger trad. American, early 1800s
Darol Anger's ethereal fiddle sings with the angels. He created a multilayered chord toward the end that shimmers with otherworldliness.
What Is the Wind? trad. Scottish melody / words by Diane Taraz, 2011
My musing on the mysteries of life, set to a gorgeous Scots tune. My words were inspired by many summers at the Isles of Shoals off the coast of New Hampshire, where the swallows dive like little fighter jets, snatch mosquitoes out of the air, and feed their chicks without even landing on the edge of the nest. The sunsets are stupendous.
Will the Circle Be Unbroken? Ada Habershon & Charles Gabriel, 1907 / arranged by
A. P. Carter in 1935 (Peer International Corp.)
During the Great Depression, Alvin Pleasant Carter took an old hymn and made it deeply personal. Many thanks to the West Cambridge Warblers, who could not be prevented from donning headphones and singing along with just the right amount of twang.
The Water Is Wide / Wade in the Water trad. Scottish / trad. American
The more optimistic verses of "The Water Is Wide" flow into "Wade in the Water," one of many slave songs that contained vital escape advice such as using streams to throw the bloodhounds off your trail. References to Moses in such songs meant guides like Harriet Tubman, who led hundreds to freedom in the North, across the metaphorical river Jordan.
Amaryllis trad. Irish melody / lyrics by Diane Taraz, 1990
My favorite houseplant was given to me long ago by my aunt. It blooms each year in the dead of winter, the very essence of hope.
Amazing Grace words by John Newton, 1779 / melody trad. American
I have been preserved through many dangers by a mysterious grace, and I am grateful. This beloved hymn sits so nicely on the dulcimer. Newton's words did not have a specific tune for decades after he wrote it. The melody we love today arose in the early 1800s, a mix of Scottish and African-American genius.
Your Truest Friend trad. Irish melody, lyrics by Diane Taraz, 2013
Amidst life's uncertainties, at least we can hope to be certain of love.
The Dutchman Michael Peter Smith, 1968 (Bird Avenue Publishing Music, ASCAP)
A celebration of devotion that transcends the losses of age.
Over the Rainbow Harold Arlen & Yip Harberg,1939 (EMI Feist Catalog, Inc.)
This beloved classic soars with Billy Novick's wistful whistle.