Tuesday, July 03, 2018

A Song of Peace --- and Cantus

Here it is the 3rd of July and I've been listening this morning to versions of my favorite song of the season, in this instance performed by the Minneapolis-based choral group Cantus.

Sometimes entitled "A Song of Peace" and at others, "This is My Song" or "The Finlandia Hymn," the melody is adapted from Jean Sibelius's "Finlandia." The words were written during the years between World War I and World War II by Lloyd Stone (1912-1993), a school teacher in Hawaii.

The sentiment is a lovely universalist one --- acknowledging an appreciation for one's own country balanced against the appreciation others around the world have for their native spaces and cultures. As such it flies in the face of the American exceptionalism present in much of what we hear in songs generally called "patriotic."

Cantus performs only the original Stone lyrics here.

Most who have encountered a version of this song in church will know that there's a third verse, added as an afterthought by Methodist theologian Georgia Harkness during the late 1930s to give it a specifically Christian cant.

Cantus itself originated as a student ensemble at St. Olaf College during 1995 and by 1999 had transitioned into a full-time professional non-profit ensemble that continues to perform a full schedule of concerts annually. This performance dates from 2010.

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