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Breaths
Poem by Birago Diop;  Music by Ysaye Maria Barnwell  © 1980
 
Listen more often to things than to beings
Listen more often to things than to beings
Tis’ the ancestors’ breath
When the fire’s voice is heard
Tis’ the ancestor’s breath
In the voice of the waters
Ah  --  wsh    Ah --  wsh
 
Those who have died have never, never left
The dead are not under the earth
They are in the rustling trees
They are in the groaning woods
They are in the crying grass
They are in the moaning rocks
The dead are not under the earth
 
Listen more often to things than to beings
Listen more often to things than to beings
Tis’ the ancestors’ breath
When the fire’s voice is heard
Tis’ the ancestor’s breath
In the voice of the waters
Ah  --  wsh    Ah --  wsh
 
Those who have did have never, never left
The dead have a pact with the living
They are in the woman’s breast
They are in the wailing child
They are with us in our homes
They are with us in this crowd
The dead have a pact with the living
 
Listen more often to things than to beings
Listen more often to things than to beings
Tis’ the ancestors’ breath
When the fire’s voice is heard
Tis’ the ancestor’s breath
In the voice of the waters
Ah  --  wsh    Ah --  wsh
Don't Let Go

Don't let go
Words and Music by Ysaye M. Barnwell (c) 2009
Commissioned by The King’s Singers

verse 1.
We know - no river's been rejected by an ocean.
That is why i can't get over wanting you
but once a river flows down into the ocean
By that ocean, it finds itself consumed.

chorus:
so let's hold on, all we have is one another
let's hold tight. Hold on and don't let go of
the air , the earth, the mid night stars, the river.
Let's hold on to each other. Don't let go.

verse 2.
The midnight sky embraces every shining star
that is why i can't get over loving you
 though each star sends forth its radiant beams of night light
by a cloud, brilliant star light can be doomed
 
verse 3.
The earth supplies us with our every need
that is why i can't get over loosing you
we think the earth is boundless  in its' giving
but it's shrinking now, depleted from our use

chorus:
so let's hold on, all we have is one another
let's hold tight. Hold on and don't let go of
the air, the earth, the mid night stars, the river.
Let's hold on to each other. Don't let go.

Verse 4.
The air we breathe is here for every one of us
that is why i can't get over missing you
each breath we take is searching for the air we need
sometimes too thick , too thin, too heavy, too perfumed.

Chorus:
so let's hold on, all we have is one another
let's hold tight. Hold on and don't let go of
the air , the earth, the mid night stars, the river.
Let's hold on to each other. Don't let go.

 

 

 

 

The Gospel (Wings To Fly)

from Urban Scenes / Creole Dreams by Y.M. Barnwell©1994

As I live , I learn.
And as I learn, I trust in God - more and more.
I see where I've come from.
I see the things I've overcome.
God's opened door, after door, after door, after door.
God gave me wings to fly.

God gave me wings to fly.
God gave me wings to fly.
...wings to fly.

When I'm down inside myself
and when I can not find a way that's free, free of doubt.
I open up my heart to you
and wait for some direction and the strength, strength to move.
You gave me wings to fly.

You gave me wings to fly.
You gave me wings to fly.
...wings to fly.

As I struggle to be free
I have to thank the ones who prayed for me and gave me light.
It was clear I did not know the way,
But they had struggled in their day
and they had fought the fight.
They gave me wings to fly.

They gave me wings to fly.
They gave me wings to fly.
...wings to fly.

They gave me wings to fly.
You gave me wings to fly.
God gave me wings to fly.
...wings to fly.

Lawd, It's Midnight

from lessons by Y.M. Barnwell © 1993

Lawd, it's midnight
a dark and fear-filled midnight.
Laws, it's a midnight without stars.

Is it always darkest just before dawn?
Lawd, it's a midnight without stars.
It's dark, a midnight without stars
Is it always darkest just before dawn?

Hope

by Ysaye M. Barnwell ©1994


Voice 1.

If we want hope to survive in this world today,
Then every day we’ve got to pray on , pray on (teach on, work on, march on, sing on)
If we want hope to survive in this world today,
Then every day we’ve got to pray on .(teach on, work on, march on, sing on)

Voice 2.

If we want hope to survive
We’ve got to pray on, pray on, pray on (teach on, work on, march on, sing on)
If we want hope to survive
We’ve got to pray on, pray on, pray on (teach on, work on, march on, sing on)

Voice 3.

Pray on (teach on, work on, march on, sing on)
Pray on (teach on, work on, march on, sing on)
Pray on (teach on, work on, march on, sing on)
Pray on (teach on, work on, march on, sing on)

Ibo Lesson

from lessons by Y.M. Barnwell © 1993

We can walk on the waters. It's only our fears that can stop us.

We are the sons and the daughters of the Ibos who walked on the waters.

The Ibos were brought here on slave ships, their arms and their legs bound in shackles,

And when they set foot onto these shores and tried to make sense of their journey,

The ancestors gave them a vision of circumstances far into the future;  of the future.

They turned and they started walking - straight out of slavery with their shackles,

Into the waters that had brought them.

They rose on the currents and kept walking - straight past the ships that had brought them.

They walked, yes they walked on the waters.

We are the Ibos who walked on the waters.

We can walk on the waters.  It's only our fears that can stop us.

We who have languished on these shores,

We should not languish further.

We have a vision of the future and we can walk on the waters.

 

In Unity

Words and Music by Y.M. Barnwell ©1999

In Unity, when I find my voice I’m harmony with you
In Unity, when I hear my note in a chord it’s ringing true
In Unity, when I’ve got my rhythm I know I’m movin’ in a groove
In Unity, I have found myself in You.

We are now creating all that is to come
Many rhythms, many voices in unity we are one
We are all committed to a world of harmony
Many voices many rhythms, we’re singing in unity.

We are setting a course for tomorrow, when the world is in our hands
We are singing for truth and justice. We are ready to take a stand.
We have hopes and aspirations . we are none of us the same
In our message and in our music it is unity we proclaim.

In Unity, when I find my voice I’m harmony with you
In Unity, when I hear my note in a chord it’s ringing true
In Unity, when I’ve got my rhythm I know I’m movin’ in a groove
In Unity, I have found myself in You/Unity.

Let Us Rise in Love

Words and music by Ysaye M. Barnwell © 2001
Commissioned by The Mystic Chorale
Dedicated to Cesare Giovanni Mathis Melussi born 2 weeks after 9/11/01

Let us, let us rise in love
Let us, let us rise in love.
Dear one,
              i never thought that you would witness such a time
                            i hear you cry.
Dear one,
              there is a reason for these things, but there’s no rhyme.
                            i hear your whys.
I don’t have the answer to your questions
I don’t have the answer to your prayers
But i know this is a moment of transcendence
If only we will take the time to care.
Let us, let us rise in love
Let us, let us rise in love
When the universe is polarized by hatred
When we ourselves have been baptized in fear
When some of us are paralyzed in principle
When there’s anger in the falling of each tear
Let us, let us rise in love
Let us, let us rise in love
Dear one,
              our world has changed in just the twinkling of an eye
                            i hear your cry.
Dear one,
              a part of each and every one of us has died.
                            i hear your whys. 
I don’t have the answer to your questions
I don’t have the answer to your prayers
I know this is a moment of transcendence
We have less to learn from joy than from our pain.
Let us, let us rise in love
Let us, let us rise in love
For so long we’ve been voyeurs of foreign pathos
The tide has changed, and now we grieve at home
Though we’re victimized by terror, we’re not innocent
Have we courage now to change what we’ve condoned?
Let us, let us rise in love
Let us, let us rise in love
As the sun sets
              we can set our hearts to listen
As the moon sets
              we can set our minds to change
As the sun and the moon rise,
              we can rise higher than high
                            we can rise, in love
Let us, let us rise in love
Let us, let us rise in love

INDABA: Prayer
(free form call/response in the style of a traditional moan)
Words and Music by Ysaye M. Barnwell
©2005 Barnwell’s Notes Publishing
DEAR LORD
BLESS US WITH CHILDREN
WE KNOW THAT THEY ARE OUR JEWELS
DEAR LORD
LET OUR CHILDREN OUT-LIVE US
GIVE THEM YOUR WISDOM, INTEGRITY AND STRENGTH
DEAR LORD
LET THEM MAKE US A PROUD PEOPLE
LET THEM SOW SEEDS OF LOVE THROUGHOUT THE WORLD
DEAR LORD
BLESS US WITH CHILDREN
AND LET THEM BE YOURS
INDABA: We Believe in You
Words and Music by Ysaye M. Barnwell
©2005 Barnwell’s Notes Publishing
||:
INDABA, INDABA, INDABA MY CHILDREN :||
                                    (Elders)                                                (Youth)
LISTEN UP! LISTEN UP YOUNG ONES, LISTENUP!     
We’ve heard it all before.
LISTEN UP! LISTEN UP YOUNG ONES, LISTENUP!             
A hundred times or more
LISTEN UP! LISTEN UP YOUNG ONES, LISTENUP!             
We better listen to the elders
LISTEN UP! LISTEN UP YOUNG ONES, LISTENUP!             
Yeah we got to do it better

Verse 1.           God has sent us you beautiful young ones
                        In answer to our prayers
                        We will guide you through life’s journey
                        You are the blessings that we all share

Chorus:            ||:  And no matter,  there is one thing you should know
                        We are your elders.  We want you to know
                        That WE BELIEVE IN YOU  :||  2X

Verse 2.            Life will hand you a number of challenges
                        Some call them obstacles, we call them stepping stones
                        Sometimes you’ll KNOW that you have succeeded
                        Sometimes you’ll FEEL like you have failed

Chorus:            ||:  But no matter, there is one thing you should know
                        We are your elders.  We want you to know
                        That WE BELIEVE IN YOU  :||  2X

CANON – AFFIRMATION
                        WE BELIEVE IN YOU
                        AND WE WILL SEE YOU THROUGH
                        YOU ARE THE WINTER SUMMER SPRING AND FALL OF ALL OUR DREAMS
                        YES WE BELIEVE IN YOU.  WE BELIEVE IN YOU
                        WE BELIEVE IN YOU
                        AND WE WILL PRAY YOU THROUGH
                        JUST DO THE VERY BEST YOU CAN IN EERYTHING YOU DO
                        AND KNOW THAT WE BELIEVE IN YOU.  YES, WE BELIEVE IN YOU.
LISTEN UP! LISTEN UP YOUNG ONES, LISTENUP!     
Listen to the elders
LISTEN UP! LISTEN UP YOUNG ONES, LISTENUP!             
We got to make it better

Verse 3.           We will always have these mean streets
                        In this world there will always be wars
                        There will always be temptations
                        In your lifetime, you will have scars.

Chorus:           ||:  And no matter,  there is one thing you should know
                        We are your elders.  We want you to know
                        That WE BELIEVE IN YOU  :||  2X

LISTEN UP! LISTEN UP YOUNG ONES, LISTENUP!     
LISTEN UP! LISTEN UP YOUNG ONES, LISTENUP!
||: INDABA, INDABA, INDABA MY CHILDREN :
Memorial 1

Text by Audre Lorde (Used by permission)
Music by Y.M. Barnwell ©

If you come as softly as the wind between the trees
You may hear what i hear, see what sorrow sees
If you come as lightly as the threading dew
I shall take you gladly nor ask more of you.
You may sit beside me silent as a breath
And only those who stay dead, shall remember death.
If you come I shall be not silent, nor speak harsh words to you
I will not ask you why, now, nor how, nor what you knew.
We shall sit here softly beneath two different years
And the rich earth between us shall drink our tears.

More than a Paycheck

by Y.M. Barnwell © 1981

We bring more than a paycheck to our loved ones and family.
We bring more than a paycheck to our loved ones and family.
We bring
asbestosis,
silicosis,
brown lung,
black lung disease.
And radiation hits the children before they've even been conceived.

I wanted more pay.
But what I've got today
is more than I bargained for
when I walked through that door.

I bring home
asbestosis,
silicosis,
brown lung,
black lung disease.
And radiation hits the children before they've even been conceived.

So I say -
Workers lend an ear.
It's important that you know.
With every job there is a fear
that disease will take its toll.
If not disease, then injury may befall your lot.
If not injury, then stress is going to tie you up in knots.

We bring more than a paycheck to our loved ones and family.
We bring more than a paycheck to our loved ones and family.
We bring
asbestosis,
silicosis,
brown lung,
black lung disease.
And radiation hits the children before they've even been conceived.

We bring more than a paycheck to our loved ones and family.
We bring more than a paycheck to our loved ones and family.

Me, I don't want no more.
And if you don't want no more,
Just say out loud, "No more".

Music in Me Singing

Text by ROBERT MALBIN (Used by permission)
Music by Y. M. Barnwell © 1998

In this space where phrases meet and mountains battle sunlight
Faces on bright silver trees see the thing that sings in me
There is more music in me singing than crimes against our souls

Father’s light is dimmer. His eyes are calm and deep.
Mpother’s fierce as eer. Just a little less esprit
And Father’s light is dimmer, his eyes are calm and deep
I aspire to the glory  before I knew what glory was
I soared. My flame was golden.  My goal eternal love.
I was pleged by them quite early
To stand tall ad always know I have more music in me singing
Than crimes against our souls.
I have more music in me singing than crimes against our souls.

Here I stand upon your stages. Here I stand before your faces.
Using rhythm, using rhyme to release your eyes and mind.
I am their offspring. I redeem all the ancients and the cold.
I have more music in me singing that crimes against our souls.

Gory is a poet like a seamstress sowing gold.
Glory is a worker standing up and being bold.
Glory is my vision hard as lightening, bitter cold
Glory is my singing and glory is my soul
I have more music in me singing than crimes against our souls

I am  the lover. I am the clown. I am the trembling falling down.
I am the bitter taste of free.  I am the thing that sings and sees. 

Gory is a poet like a seamstress sowing gold.
Glory is a worker standing up and being bold.
Glory is my vision hard as lightening, bitter cold
Glory is my singing and glory is my soul
I have more music in me singing than crimes against our souls

I have more music in me singing than crimes against our souls.

No Images
Poem by Waring Cuney; Music by Ysaye Maria Barnwell ©1981
 
She does not know her beauty, her beauty
She thinks her brown body has no glory, no glory
But if she could dance naked ‘neath the palm tree
And see her reflection in the mirror
Then she, then she, then she would know
 
But there are no trees on the street where she lives and
Dishwater gives back no images
 
She does not know her beauty, her beauty
She thinks her brown body has no glory, no glory
But if she could dance naked ‘neath the palm trees
And see her reflection in the mirror
Then she, then she, then she would know
No Mirrors In My Nana’s House

from CROSSINGS by Y.M. Barnwell ©1992

There were no mirrors in my Nana's house,
no mirrors in my Nana's house.
There were no mirrors in my Na's house,
no mirrors in my Nana's house.
And the beauty that I saw in everything
was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun).

I never knew that my skin was too black.
I never knew that my nose was too flat.
I never knew that my clothes didn't fit.
I never knew there were things that I'd missed,
cause the beauty in everything
was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun);
...was in her eyes.

There were no mirrors in my Nana's house,
no mirrors in my Nana's house.
And the beauty that I saw in everything
was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun).

I was intrigued by the cracks in the walls.
I tasted, with joy, the dust that would fall.
The noise in the hallway was music to me.
The trash and the rubbish just cushioned my feet.
And the beauty in everything
was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun).
...was in her eyes.

There were no mirrors in my Nana's house,
no mirrors in my Nana's house.
And the beauty that I saw in everything
was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun).

The world outside was a magical place.
I only knew love.
I never knew hate,
and the beauty in everything
was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun).
...was in her eyes.

There were no mirrors in my Nana's house,
no mirrors in my Nana's house.
There were no mirrors in my Nana's house,
no mirrors in my Nana's house.
And the beauty that I saw in everything
was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun).

"Chil', look deep into my eyes."
"Chil', look deep into my eyes."
"Chil'..."

On Children

Text adapted from The Prophet: On Children by Kahlil Gibran; Music by Ysaye Maria Barnwell  ©1981
 
Your children are not your children
They are the sons and the daughters of life’s longing for itself
They come through you but they are not from you
And though they are with you they belong not to you
 
You can give them your love but not your thoughts
For they have their own thoughts, they have their own thoughts
You can house their bodies but not their souls
For the souls dwell in a place of tomorrow
 
Which you cannot visit not even in your dreams
You can strive to be like them
But you can not make them just like you
 
Strive to be like them
But you can not make them just like you.
 

Prayer

from Safe House: Still Looking by Y.M. Barnwell ©1994

Lord, Must I do unto others before they do unto me
Must I arm myself
to protect myself from harm and injury?
Well, that is not the lesson
that I learned on my mother's knee
when she told me to
"Do unto others, only what you'd have them do unto you".

The Shout

from URBAN SCENES/CREOLE DREAMS by Y.M. Barnwell ©1994

Johnny is a man
He's not a boy
Now, well-a
Johnny was a man
Now, he's a white man's toy
Now, well-a
They try to beat him down
In every kind of way
Now, well-a
Should he turn the other cheek?
Well if he has to.
Now, well-a
Workin' everyday
When he has a job
Now, well-a
Workin' everyday
Just like a slave
Now, well-a
When he go back home
to his loved ones
Now, well-a
Well he's mean and cruel
He can't help it.
Now, well-a
To everyone he loves
He can't help it.
Now, well-a
And they's a beatin' him down
yeah, they beatin' him down
Now, well-a
So he's filled with rage
and it's destroyin his soul
Now, well-a
Should he turn the other cheek
Not another time
Now, well-a
Well if he don't, don't you know
He's gonna die
Now, well-a
They gonna beat him down
They make him lose himself
Now, well-a
He done lost his pride.
Dat's the worst thing.
Now, well-a
He's filled with rage
It's destroyin his soul
Now, well-a
Make me wanna cry
Make me wanna holler
Now, well-a
Make me wanna holler
Make me wanna die
Now, well-a
They keep beatin him down
Lord, you know they do
Now, well-a
He done lost his mind
He can't take it
Now, well-a
They gonna take his life.
Who give a damn?
Now, well-a
They gonna take his life.
He's not a man
Now, well-a
Cause Johnny is a boy
He's not a man
Now, well-a
No, no, no, no Johnny is a man
He's not a boy
Now, well-a
Johnny was a man.
Now he's a white man's toy.
Now, well-a
Can Johnny be a man in a white man's land?
Can Johnny be a man in a white man's land?
Now, well-a
Can Johnny be a man in a racist land?
Can Johnny be a man in a racist land?

Moon run ‘til day catch it.
Moon run ‘til day catch it.

(In These Times) Sing LA LA

WORDS AND MUSIC by Y.M. Barnwell ©2010


Commissioned by The Downtown Minneapolis churches: Basilica of Saint Mary, the Cathedral Church of St. Mark, Central Lutheran Church, Hennepin Avenue Methodist Church, Plymouth Congregational Church, St. Olaf Catholic Church, and Westminster Presbyterian Church for their Choral Festival
27 February 2011

Sing la la, la la, la la , la la, la la.....
Sing la la, la la, la la , la la, la la.....

In these times, when conventions fail
In times of national reckoning
When we’ve lost the norms that comfort us
And there are no rules for trusting

When habits of civility
are broken by the masses
When hard times push us down so hard
We’ve crushed the middle classes

When we've blocked the flow of justice
and coercion trumps conversing
In times like these we need a song
to keep our spirits stirring

Sing la la, la la, la la , la la, la la.....
Sing lala, la la, la la , la la, la la.....

Let this song be a healing balm
An offering of thanks giving
To those who with their every breath
Have given life to freedom

Let this song be a solemn chant
A note of recognition
For those who’ve have suffered unto death
a life without redemption

Let this song be a selfless prayer
When neither rhymes nor reason
can assuage the fears of loss and love
That close our hearts to giving

Let this song be an anthem when
in joyful celebration
We riseto speak our truth
and stand for justice in our nation

Let this song be a window
with anunobstructed view
throughwhich you see the God in me,
and I the God in you

La la, la la, la la , la la, la la.....
Sing la la, la la, la la , la la, la la.....


We have a reason to sing this song
We have the power to sing this song
We have the courage to sing this song
We have the spirit to sing this song

We have a love to sing this song
We have the hope to sing this song
We have a need to sing this song
We have the right to sing this song

Sing la la, la la, la la , la la, la la.....
Sing la la, la la, la la , la la, la la.....

Soundbite from Beijing

by Y.M. Barnwell ©1995


We, yes we are rising up / rising from the depths of our despair
Oh We, yes we are rising up / rising from the depths of our despair
We are women of the world.
We're from the East South, West and North
We are women of the world.
We're from the mountains, the valleys, the cities and farms
We are women of the world.
We're from poverty, illiteracy,circumcision, shame
We are women of the world.
We are housewives, nine-to-fives, mothers displaced.
We are women of the world,
And we're coming from Beijing ready for change.
We, yes we are rising up / rising from the depths of our despair
Oh We, yes we are rising up / rising from the depths of our despair
We are telling our stories and sharing our lives
So that never again can the truth be denied.
We've untied our toungs and we're speaking out loud
We've unbound our feet and we're marching toward freedom
We're teaching each other and claiming our power
Together we're building a better tomorrow.
We, yes we are rising up / rising from the depths of our despair
Oh We, yes we are rising up / rising from the depths of our despair
We are a-rising, women are a-rising -
Rising Up!
(The) Spiritual (Cain’t No One Know)

from Urban Scenes / Creole Dreams by Y.M. Barnwell ©1994

Cain't no one know at sunrise
how this day is gonna end.
Cain't no one know at sunset
if the next day will begin.

In this world of trouble and woe,
a Member had better be ready to go.
We look for things to stay the same,
but in the twinkling of an eye, everything can be changed.

Cain't no one know at sunrise
how this day is gonna end.
Cain't no one know at sunset
if the next day will begin.

The troubles of this world fill our hearts with rage
from Soweto, to Stonewall, Birmingham and LA
We are searching for hope that lies within ourselves
as we fight against misogyny race hatred and AIDS.

Cain't no one know at sunrise
how this day is gonna end.
Cain't no one know at sunset
if the next day will begin.

Take Heart

Text by Elaine Clift (Used by permission)
Music by Y.M. Barnwell ©

I listened to the women of Rio, Rio
when they try to speak of street children murdered

my heart is breaking
my heart is breaking, breaking
my heart is breaking, breaking
my heart is breaking

I listen to the women of Chernobyl tell of children’s blank faces grown old and lifeless and

my heart is breaking
my heart is breaking, breaking
my heart is breaking, breaking
my heart is breaking

I listen to the women of Bhopal whisper grotesqueness of deformity and disease and

my heart is breaking
my heart is breaking, breaking
my heart is breaking, breaking
my heart is breaking

I listen to the women of Adis Ababa describing empty stomachs and drought and

my heart is breaking
my heart is breaking, breaking
my heart is breaking, breaking
my heart is breaking

I listen to the women of Cyprus and Ireland and what I hear is conflict’s pain
I listen to the women of Sri Lanka and South Africa and what I hear is conflict’s pain

my heart is breaking
my heart is breaking, breaking
my heart is breaking, breaking
my heart is breaking

I listen to the Madres and the women in black
I listen to the Africa mamas
I hear the voices of the women from Asia, the Pacific Rim, Northern Africa and the Middle East and Eastern Europe

Heh yay hey yah
Heh yay hey yah
Heh yay hey yah

I rejoice for ev’ry woman
I have hope for ev’ry woman
I take heart
Take heart.

 

 

 

Wanting Memories

from CROSSINGS by Y.M. Barnwell ©1992

I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me
to see the beauty in the world through my own eyes.
I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me
To see the beauty in the world through my own eyes.

You said you'd rock me in the cradle of your arms.
You said you'd hold me ‘til the storms of life were gone.
You said you'd comfort me in times like these and now I need you.
Now I need you...
And you are -
gone.

So, I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me
to see the beauty in the world through my own eyes.
Since you've gone and left me, there's been so little beauty,
but I know I saw it clearly through your eyes.
Now the world outside is such a cold and bitter place.
Here inside I have few things that will console.
And when I try to hear your voice above the storms of life,
then i remember all the things that I was told.

Well, I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me
to see the beauty in the world through my own eyes.
Yes, I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me
To see the beauty in the world through my own eyes.
I think on the things that made me feel so wonderful when I was young.
I think on the things that made me laugh , made me dance, made me sing.
I think on the things that made me grow into a being full of pride.
I think on these things, for they are true.

I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me
to see the beauty in the world through my own eyes.
I thought that you were gone, but now I know you're with me.
You are the voice that whispers all I need to hear.
I know a "Please", a "Thank you", and a smile will take me far.
I know that I am you and you are me, and we are one.
I know that who I am is numbered in each grain of sand.
I know that I am blessed,
again, and again, and again, and again,
and, again.

I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me
to see the beauty in the world through my own eyes.
I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me
To see the beauty in the world through my own eyes.


We Are...

from lessons by Y.M. Barnwell ©1993

For each child that's born
a morning star rises
and sings to the universe
who we are.

We are our grandmothers' prayers.
We are our grandfathers' dreamings.
We are the breath of our ancestors.
We are the spirit of God.

We are
Mothers of courage
Fathers of time
Daughters of dust
Sons of great vision.
We are
Sisters of mercy
Brothers of love
Lovers of life and
the builders of nations.
We are
Seekers of truth
Keepers of faith
Makers of peace and
the wisdom of ages.

We are our grandmothers' prayers.
We are our grandfathers' dreamings.
We are the breath of our ancestors.
We are the spirit of God.

For each child that's born
a morning star rises
and sings to the universe
who we are.

WE ARE ONE.

When I Die

(from CROSSINGS by Y.M. Barnwell (c)1992)

When I die, you can bury me up on a mountain top.
When I die, you can bury me up on a mountain top.
But when I die, let my spirit breathe.
Let it soar like an eagle to its highest peak -
when I die.

When I die, you can cast me out into the ocean wide.
When I die , you can cast me out into the ocean wide.
And when I die, let me spirit cry.
Let it add to the tears that make the ocean deep and wide-
when I die.

When I die, you can bury me down deep in the ground.
When I die, you can bury me down deep in the ground.
But, when I die, let these bones take root.
Like a tree that's been planted, let them come up bearing fruit
when I die.

When I die, you can toss me out on the winds of time.
When I die, you can toss me out on the winds of time.
But when I die, let these ashes roam-
Blow here, blow there - I know that they will find their true home -
when I die.

Oh, when I die
Oh, when I die
Up on the mountain top...
Out on the ocean wide...
Down deep in the ground...
Out on the winds of time...
Oh, when I die,
Oh, when I die,
Oh, when I die...

Would You Harbor Me?

from Safe House: Still Looking by Y.M. Barnwell ©1994

Would you harbor me?
Would I harbor you?
Would you harbor me?
Would I harbor you?

Would you harbor a Christian, a Muslim, a Jew
a heretic, convict or spy?
Would you harbor a run away woman, or child,
a poet, a prophet, a king?
Would you harbor an exile, or a refugee,
a person living with AIDS?
Would you harbor a Tubman, a Garrett, A Truth
a fugitive or a slave?
Would you harbor a Haitian Korean or Czech,
a lesbian or a gay?

Would you harbor me?
Would I harbor you?
Would you harbor me?
Would I harbor you?