I like to pray with song. I have been working on writing songs for the gods that I worship regularly, but it can be a painfully slow process sometimes. The muses do not work on our schedules. Some of my songs have been published, and while I am not a fantastic singer, and not a soloist by any stretch of the imagination, I am willing to make some recordings in order to help those of you that would like to sing my songs yourself. In some cases, I have written the lyrics and music myself, in some cases I have collaborated with others, and in other cases I have set new words to existing music.
For Hestia, I set the Homeric Hymn to Hestia (trans. Shelmerdine) to Rachmaninov’s Bogoro Ditse Devo. This was published in First and Last, a devotional anthology edited by Terrence P. Ward. It is a choral piece in four parts. The alto line contains the entire hymn, but when I first began singing this, I was singing soprano, so I tend to sing the soprano part when I pray. (Please forgive me – I’m singing from memory and recording on my laptop.) You can listen to it here.
This song for Apollon was the first choral piece I ever wrote and the first time I ever wrote my own sheet music. A friend did have to help me fix it after (he’s fixed or helped to arrange most of my sheet music), but this felt like something entirely new for me to be doing. It was written in 2011. The sheet music was published in With Lyre and Bow, a devotional anthology edited by Jennifer Lawrence. What I’ve uploaded for you is the version that I sing by myself, not the choral version that you can see in the book.
This song that I wrote for Hermes is perhaps my favorite one of them all. It doesn’t have sheet music because the timing is too complex for anyone I know to write. I wrote it over a few weeks at the end of 2013 and into 2014.
For Artemis, I had a dream one night (in maybe 2005) and woke up and immediately sent an e-mail to my choirmaster (Raven Kaldera – Asphodel Pagan Choir). The email was mostly full of nonsense about how the song in my head sounded like the pounding of horses’ hooves but that I couldn’t make anything even remotely like what I heard in my head come out of my mouth. It also had a bunch of epithets, some verses from Seneca and other classical writers, and a few random verses. Raven was kind enough to take my middle of the night brain blather and turn it into an actual song. He continues to give me credit for writing this song, but I do believe it is more his creation than mine. I will give you a link to a (bad) recording, but it is meant to be sung by a group (though it is a unison piece), and I actually have no idea of the correct pronunciation for some of the epithets and am fairly sure that I have been pronouncing them wrong for years. Sadly, I do have a recording of the choir singing this (with guitar accompaniment), but I don’t have permission to post it on the Internet, so I’ll do my best on my own. I can share the sheet music in pdf form if you’re interested. Just drop me an email (pythioumelissa at gmail). Free for all contributors to the devotional… kidding!) The recording is here.
A friend adapted a prayer that I wrote to be a song for Leto, but we were still working on it when he moved away, and alas, I don’t have permission to share what we did end up with. A song for Leto is definitely still on my to-do list. Have you written one? Soundcloud has been pretty easy to use even if it is daunting to think that you’ll all hear me singing… I’d love it if any of you who have written songs for the gods would share your work in the comments.
For Aphrodite, I reworded Randall Thompson’s Alleluia. As his music is still under copyright, I cannot share it with you here, but if you have the sheet music (which can be purchased fairly easily), it is easy enough to substitute. A-lle-lu-ia becomes A-phro-di-te.
The song that I put together for the muses was done at about the same time as the one for Hestia, and it really is a companion piece. I had just graduated from university in 2004, and while at university, I had been introduced to two Rachmaninov pieces that the choir director then deemed too difficult but that I loved. I set Shelmerdine’s translation of Homer’s Hymn to Apollo and the Muses to Rachmaninov’s Slava. The pagan choir that I had joined also deemed this song too difficult, and we never performed it, but I remain hopeful even if I now live on the other side of the world. The song is in four parts, but it does split into nine (maybe it was 11) part harmony at some point. The alto line has the entire hymn, and I will do my best to sing that for you. It is my most used prayer to the muses. I do have the sheet music for this – just e-mail me if you’d like to have it.
For Juno, I wrote a wedding song. It was published in Queen of Olympos, a devotional anthology edited by Lykeia. This was written in three parts, and I’ll do my best to sing one of them from memory, so it’s probably a little off from the sheet music, but if you can’t read sheet music… have you figured out that I’m not a real musician yet? Again, I collaborated with Raven Kaldera on this, and I’m pretty sure that at times I’m singing some of my original music and not what was published, so apologies for that. This is the folk process, right? Here is the recording.
I wrote a choral piece for Nanna (in 2013), but this one needs to be sung by a choir, and there is no way that I can even attempt to sing it by myself. I will upload a midi file, and you can drop me an email if you are interested in a pdf of the sheet music. It has never been performed, and I wrote this song in thanks to her, so if you have a choir that would be willing to sing it, please do. If you do, I’d love to see a video or hear a rough recording.
I wrote this song for Skaði in 2007 over the course of several nights driving to graduate school. There is no sheet music, but the lyrics were published in a devotional. However, I don’t even know the title of the book. If you have seen this before, please leave me a note in the comments telling me the name of the book – I would love to see the rest of the devotional.
So, now that I’ve truly bared my soul (and my voice) to you, I hope this was helpful. I also hope more of us will write music for the gods and share it with each other. Writing music is both an offering and a service, both to the gods and to our community.