More on “Spirit of Life”

Today I dug out my copy of Songs for Congregational Singing by Carolyn McDade (1991), with harmonizations by McDade and Marian Shatto. After writing a post earlier this week on the popular hymn “Spirit of Life” which appears in the Unitarian Universalist hymnal with a harmonization by Grace Lewis-McLaren, I decided to look at another harmonization.

McDade’s and Shatto’s harmonization of “Spirit of Life” for piano uses a chord progression that can be interpreted as follows (one chord per measure):
   C Dm G7 C Am Dm G7 Cadd9
   C Dm G7 C Am Dm G7 Csus4
   Cadd9 Dm G13 Cadd9 Am Dm G7 Cadd9 C5
(N.B.: the last note is held for an extra measure.)

The harmonies are somewhat more complex than this — for example, you could read a CM7 for the fourth, ninth, and twelfth measures; and a Dm9 for the twenty-second measure.

And the rhythm is somewhat more complex than the version in the hymnal — the left hand on the piano part plays arpeggio-like figures that vary from straight eighths to syncopated figures like this: | 1 & 2 &   &   & |.

Also of interest in this little book is the song “Spirit of Justice,” with words that include:

Your people call, in faith we call — Be with us now
that we may make of this pained and captive land
a city just, a people free, strong with hope
and cast our lot with those who face the storm
and don’t turn back but dare go on….

Personally, I’d have more interest in singing these words than the words to “Spirit of Life.”