The Power of Song
by Barb Tilsen
A few months ago I got an urgent phone call from a teacher I knew who was searching for a song. She asked if I remembered the song I used to teach in her classroom about a boat carrying peace all around the world. I had retired from my work as a teaching artist several years earlier, and it was a delight to be called on as a resource once again for her class. This was early in 2017, and she said in these tough times, in the midst of such turbulent national news, we need this kind of song to sing with the children. I started singing, “This boat’s gonna carry love and peace, love and peace, love and peace, this boat’s gonna carry love and peace, all the way around the world.” “Yes,” she said, “that’s the one! How can we find it?” I gave her the CMN website, and told her to go to the Peace Songbook in our Song Library. There she could listen to Katherine Dine’s wonderful song “All the Way Around the World,” and get the lyrics too.
Such is the power of this great online resource, heartfelt songs exactly right for the moment just a few finger clicks away. CMN’s Peace Songbook is a “song bag” filled with music that stays in our thoughts and hearts, ready to rise up when the moment calls out for a little bit of hope, healing and connection. It has many such songs, organized into the broad themes that flow naturally from the concept of peace—songs about bullying, resolving conflict, antibias, compassion, fear, grief, nonviolence, justice, community, love of country, love of the world. Whether light-hearted and fun or more moving and serious in tone, these children’s songs have an underlying theme affirming our desire to build a just, healthy and more peaceful world.
The seeds for the Peace Songbook and the whole Song Library lie in our earliest dreams of what CMN could be online. We planted the first seed in this online musical garden sixteen years ago, at another time when the turbulence of the national news had stopped people in their tracks. In the aftermath of 9/11, we were trying desperately to find ways to reach out and sing out for peace in our work with children. In this moment of need, the Peace Resources Pages were born. In its earliest form it was a listing of songs about peace, with contact information for each one. Later we added audio files to some of the songs in this early evolving time for music on the internet. Over the years as online capabilities expanded, our resources grew. I continue to be struck by these differences in time. In 2001, people emailed and phoned each other individually to track down songs on their own. In that moment a central place on the web with information about where to find songs was a key first step. Today, in one phone call we can easily direct anyone to our website to find a song with everything they need to listen and learn it right there. From its simple beginnings, the Peace Songbook and the Song Library have blossomed into a beautiful accessible collection of music. Though what we offer over time grows and changes with each new advance, one steady constant remains—the wealth of songs from our members. Here is the heartbeat, where we share the best of ourselves, of what we’ve written, what we sing, what we dream for our children and the world.
Our songs for children about peace and justice, resolving conflicts, and celebrating our global family are more important than ever in these troubled times. These Peace Resources are intended to help us all move forward with hope and tools for song and action as we work together to build a healthier, more peaceful world.