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Roots hold me close . . .

Good morning! I’m Dan Leonard, and I have limited range.

Let me clarify:  I mean I have limited singing range.

I love to sing — and play guitar.  But, I’ve come to recognize my limitations in both of these areas.  (I have recently concluded that I may never be the rock star I envisioned when I was in high school).

Why do I bring this up?  Because this place – UUSS – is a place of great connection for all – even those with limited vocal range.

Let me give you an example:

Let’s take the popular/anthemic UU tune “Spirit of Life.”  This song is set in the generally comfortable key of C, and most of its notes fall in the middle of the C clef.  I therefore conclude that it’s in the typical mid-range of many singers.

But, and this is where my range limits come into play:  The song is musically simple, but thematically moving.  And, it’s this way at precisely the highest point in the trajectory of notes in the song.

You probably know the bits:

Roots hold me close.

Wings set me free.

Spirit of Life, come to me, come to me…


Now, we’re not hitting soprano highs here.  I think the highest note is a B.  Certainly not high enough to shatter any glass.

But, if you ever listen closely to me sing along with this song, you’ll never hear me hit that note.  And here’s the reason:  articulating these words with this melody does “stir compassion” in my soul.  It chokes me up!  It reminds me, in crescendo, of nearly 20 years of experiences that I and my wife Katy have shared with many of you in this space:  sharing the preparation of all-church luncheons, Board and Committee meetings and visits to our Partner Church in Transylvania.  Here ARE our roots, and here we do find freedom.

I hope – and expect – that the next time you sing this song, you feel these same stirrings of compassion and connection.  But I also hope you can hit all the notes, and cover for me!


Dan Leonard