In the Name of Love on MLK Day

 

 

Today our nation commemorates Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The message and significance of Martin Luther King Jr. and what he represents for the aspirations of our country and the world weigh more heavily, sadly, today, than they have for a very long time.

This Thursday a choir of third graders in Manhattan will quote from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech during the conclusion of their chorus performance.

I was brought into their school to direct the third grade chorus on short notice in late October when the original chorus director left unexpectedly.  When I was told the performance was scheduled for this coming week, I immediately suggested that for the concert’s finale the children could sing U2’s paean to Martin Luther King Jr. “Pride (In the Name of Love)” while also quoting lines from the iconic “I Have a Dream” speech.

Pride (in the Name of Love) – U2

U2’s lyrics about the oppressed and those who would stand up to oppression throughout history, as well as the third verse that pointedly references Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, will be sung in full by the children.  The hummed phrases will be repeated and sung as accompaniment to excerpts from “I Have a Dream”.  Each of the four individual third grade classes will quote in unison one of the four most well remembered sentences from the speech.  After the final full throated refrain of “Pride”, the concert will end with the word “love” held in extended harmony.

Rehearsals have been coming along beautifully.  It is a uniquely stirring experience to see and hear young children sing that song by U2 and quote from one of the most resonant texts of the 20th century.

The complete concert will begin with a foot stomping hand clapping rendition of Queen’s “We Will Rock You”; followed by a “Joy in the World” medley of Three Dog Night’s “Joy to the World”, Sergio Mendes “Mas Que Nada” (in Portuguese), Miriam Makeba’s “Pata Pata” (in Xhosa) and Paul Lincke’s “Berliner Luft” (in German); followed by another foot stomping, hand clapping “People are People” by Depeche Mode, before we conclude with:

 

Pride (In the Name of Love) (U2) / I Have a Dream (Martin Luther King Jr.)

 

One man come in the name of love
One man come and go
One man come he to justify
One man to overthrow

In the name of love
What more in the name of love?
In the name of love
What more in the name of love?

One man caught on a barbed wire fence
One man he resist
One man washed on an empty beach
One man betrayed with a kiss

In the name of love
What more in the name of love?
In the name of love
What more in the name of love?

 

mm mm mm mm – mm mm mm mm – mm mm mm mm mm

mm mm mm mm – mm mm mm mm – mm mm mm mm mm ….

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that we will one day live in a nation where we will not be judged by the color of our skin but by the content of our character.

I have a dream today.  And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

 

Early morning, April four
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride
In the name of love
What more in the name of love?
In the name of love
What more in the name of love?

In the name of love
What more in the name of love?

Love!

 

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Update 1/18/18, Facebook Post:

The concert this morning went beautifully.
The kids were fantastic. The parents responded with great enthusiasm.

Several parents came up to me later and said they had tears in their eyes during the finale.

This was one of the more enjoyable, fulfilling teaching artist experiences I have had and I really appreciate it.

 

About dannyashkenasi

I'm a composer with over 30 years experience creating music theater. I'm also an actor, writer, director, producer, teacher and general enthusiast for the arts.
This entry was posted in Melodies Linger On, Notes in the News, The Teaching Artist and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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