Every Wednesday evening in August, Crossroads United Church was the host space for “Song Circle” — an invitation to people of faith from any tradition — to come and share the music of their faith.
Over the five evenings, the crowd gathered numbers, diversity and depth of ability to hear and appreciate (as well as participate in singing, when invited) the songs of one another’s traditions.
Co-coordinators Bruce Harding and Amarjeet Singh wanted to convene a creative and appreciative space, in which songs could be shared, sung, and perhaps even newly composed! Participant Shahnaz Rahimtula, who shared beautiful songs from the classical Punjabi tradition on at least two evenings, said, “I commend the pioneering community team for their enthusiasm to bring forward this initiative.”
Each evening, Bruce and Amarjeet, accompanied by various numbers of volunteer musicians from the Crossroads and Naad communities, created an opportunity for people of all ages to share a song from their tradition, as well as teaching many songs (in Punjabi and English) which became “anchor” songs for the community to repeat and learn well. Said Amarjeet, following one evening, “It was an amazing evening with some beautiful hearts and wonderful souls.” And Bruce added, “It has been a sheer delight for me to co-host our Song Circle gatherings. I think we grow in understanding and respect for people who’re different than we are by sharing in common experiences. Seeing the variety of musical expression and the passion which people bring to their faith and their song is inspiring!”
“It was an amazing evening with some beautiful hearts and wonderful souls.”
On the final evening of the series, there were so many song offerings that it looked like the songs would never end! A participant originally from Uganda taught a Swahili song (and dance!), visitors from Mexico sang a song in Spanish, a Crossroads member sang in Tagalog, there were several Punjabi songs, and a few in English as well! Across the evenings, singers from the Sikh, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist and Christian traditions shared songs from the wealth of their spiritual lives in community.
In the words of Craig Perry, musical participant and candidate for ministry recently at Crossroads, “It is actually very difficult to create intercultural spaces where it is truly intercultural and not simply a dominant culture engaging a minority for their own enlightenment, entertainment or self-satisfaction. If this was an experiment, I’d declare it a grand success!”
Bruce and Amarjeet are in discussion about how to extend the experiment — and the gift of intercultural musical sharing — into the future.
Photos by Shah-G Photos
View more Song Circle photos here.
View a Song Circle video here.