Kennebunk, ME, August 6, 2017
Soprano Beverly Heald's spontaneous rendition of "Land of the Free" with the poet, Mary Elizabeth Nordstrom at the piano, inspired an uplifting round of applause from those gathered in the Huntington Common parlor for the regular First Sunday at 3 Hymn Sing.
As the song sheets were passed out, tongue-in-cheek, Nordstrom had said "You are participating in a World Premiere Performance of 'Land of the Free' ." A volunteer seasoned church musician, she organizes a monthly Hymn Sing at the Kennebunk retirement community where she is an Independent category resident. She moved there a little over five years ago when her late husband needed Assisted Living.
At the July 4 noonday meal in the Huntington Common dining room, fellow resident Ann Prescott said she was going to spend the afternoon writing words for a new national anthem. Nordstrom thought to herself, "I could do that!" Prescott forgot about it.
Sitting with her iPad, back in her studio apartment with that intent in mind, Mary Elizabeth Nordstrom took virtual dictation from the collective unconscious that writers are taught is their constant resource. The words came totally from inspiration and not premeditation.
She was so surprised with the result that she shared immediately with a segment of her email list the new words she had set to the tune and rhythm of "National Hymn" used in hymnals as "God of Our Fathers". Two retired church musicians requested performance permission by return email. One asked to send it to his son who conducts a Midwestern university Chorus.
To open the August 6 Hymn Sing, she asked Beverly Heald to lead the group in singing all four verses of "God of our Fathers." Then Heald, who has volunteered to share leadership of these First Sunday at 3 happenings, passed out sheets with the new words.
Spontaneous applause resounded in the Huntington Common parlor after
singing the new words and simultaneously digesting the impact of their meaning. This is uncommon to Hymn sings where participants do not applaud themselves. Nordstrom acknowledged the applause,
A participant urged Heald to sing the words as a solo. She graciously accepted the request following which there was another explosive round of applause that the writer will not soon forget.
How little we know! Nordstrom offers the words for use by churches and non profit choruses without a royalty as long as they protect copies with the copyright notice printed in each one.
Should composers wish to make arrangements of the music to be sold or musicians, performances to be recorded or otherwise performed for profit with this new title and the words for "Land of the Free," she plans to set up a royalty arrangement by consulting copyright lawyer Jared Smith of New Hampshire who is on her email list.
The late great Kate Smith established a career with "God Bless America." Nordstrom hopes that someone else will benefit from "Land of the Free" and that it will turn up in future editions of hymnals alongside "America the Beautiful."
LAND OF THE FREE
Land of the free, whose shores are open wide
To those who share our nation's dream with pride,
So stir our hearts to treasure what we have,
That we protect the way in which we live.
With high respect for people though diverse,
Our strength resounds throughout the universe.
May we together find a common cause
And then, together, work to mend the flaws.
Thus, under God, we go about our days.
With inspiration, fresh in myriad ways.
Enlighten all to share creative joy;
In greater wisdom, this insight employ.
(C) 2017Mary Elizabeth Nordstrom
Huntington Common, Kennebunk, ME
Words: Mary Elizabeth Nordstrom (1925- )
Music: National Hymn 10:10:10
George W. Warren (1828-1902)
(Optional trumpet fanfare before each verse)