Brighter Than Today: A Secular Solstice

by Raymond Arnold

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    God probably doesn't exist, but that's not the point. Celebrate humanity with music from the 2013 Winter Solstice Celebration. Featuring live performances from Alex Federici, Raymond Arnold, Glen Raphael, Myriam Phiro, and The Bliss Jockeys.
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1.
Bring the light... Bright the li-ight... Oh bring the light and let it shine on me. Bring the light (Bring the light) Bring the li-ight (Bring the li-ight) Oh bring the light and let it shine on me. Drive your chariot (Drive your chariot) Pull the flame (Pull the flame) Oh bring the light and let it shine on me. Eat the sky (Eat the sky) Make it bleed (Make it bleed) Oh bring the light and let it shine on me. Speak the word (Speak the word) Make it be (Make it be) Oh bring the light and let it shine on me. You are a crucible (You are a crucible) Pressure and Heat (Pressure and heat) Oh bring the light and let it shine on me. Bring the light (Bring the light) Bring the li-ight (Bring the li-ight) Oh bring the light and let it shine on me. Bring the light (Bring the light) Bring the li-ight (Bring the li-ight) Oh bring the light and let it shine on me.
2.
Archimedes said if I wanna move a load, gotta get myself a lever, lay it on a fulcrum. Little bit of effort over quite a bit o’ distance. I can move a load as big as I wish. I can: Move the World, if my lever is long enough Move the World, and I’ve a place to stand, I can Move the World, I can make myself strong enough to Move the World, if I got a good plan But I gotta’dmit that the world’s pretty big And all I got here in my hand is a pitiful twig. But if I met a friend with a great big beam, I could say “Hey Friend!” if you share my dream, you can: Move the World, if your lever is long enough Move the World, and you’ve a place to stand, you can Move the World, you can make myself strong enough to Move the World, if you have a good plan But it seems the beam is still not long enough. Simple tools a pretty cool but this is kinda tough (But maybe) If we work together we can build a bigger lever, We can make the world better if we give it a shove. We can: Move the World, if our lever is long enough Move the World, and we’ve a place to stand, we can Move the World, we can make myself strong enough to Move the World, if we have a good plan, we can Move the World, if our lever is long enough Move the World, and we’ve a place to stand, we can Move the World, we can make myself strong enough to Move the World, if we have a good plan, we can
3.
Little one, little one, bitter wind blown Little one, little one, bitter wind blown Sun barely rising above the horizon Little one, little one, bitter wind blown Flowers are withering, naked bark brittle oh, Little one, little one, bitter wind blown Don't understand why the light would abandon us, Little one, little one, bitter wind blown (And) I don't know how much more he may demand of us Little one, little one, bitter wind blown Sun, sailing away. I don’t know where. I don’t know why… Oh... sky, Darkening grey, wishing there weren’t so many goodbyes….. ...little one, little one why... Asking me questions I don't have the answers to, Little one, little one, bitter wind blown Watching you shiver, and I don't know what to do Little one, little one, bitter wind blown Maybe if we did the dance, said the words just right Little one, little one, bitter wind blown Maybe he'll come back maybe things'll be alright Little one, little one, bitter wind blown Sun, sailing away. I don’t know where. I don’t know why… Oh... sky, Darkening grey, wishing there weren’t so many goodbyes….. ...little one, little one why...
4.
03:43
They may bury my body when I die Near some graveyard I'll be found Simply rotting in the ground If they bury my body when I die They may burn my body when I die As that fiery furnace flashes II'll be nothing more than ashes If they burn my body when I die They may use my body when I die As the doctors ply their arts I'll be in a hundred parts If they use my body when I die They may freeze my body when I die Though I may well be mistaken I would hope to reawaken If they freeze my body when I die They may eat my body when I die If a zombie horde remains They'll be hankering for brains As they eat my body when I die. I'd prefer to never die at all Cheating death is such a rarity It would take a singularity To permit we never die at all They may bury my body when I die Near some graveyard I'll be found Simply rotting in the ground If they bury my body when I die.
5.
From desert cliff and mountaintop we trace the wide design, Strike-slip fault and overthrust and syn and anticline. . . We gaze upon creation where erosion makes it known, And count the countless aeons in the banding of the stone. Odd, long-vanished creatures and their tracks and shells are found; Where truth has left its sketches on the slate below the ground. The patient stone can speak, if we but listen when it talks. Humans wrote the Bible; God wrote the rocks. There are those who name the stars, who watch the sky by night, Seeking out the darkest place, to better see the light. Long ago, when torture broke the remnant of his will, Galileo recanted, but the Earth is moving still. High above the mountaintops, where only distance bars, The truth has left its footprints in the dust between the stars. We may watch and study or may shudder and deny, Humans wrote the Bible; God wrote the sky. By stem and root and branch we trace, by feather, fang and fur, How the living things that are descend from things that were. The moss, the kelp, the zebrafish, the very mice and flies, These tiny, humble, wordless things---how shall they tell us lies? We are kin to beasts; no other answer can we bring. The truth has left its fingerprints on every living thing. Remember, should you have to choose between them in the strife, Humans wrote the Bible; God wrote life. And we who listen to the stars, or walk the dusty grade, Or break the very atoms down to see how they are made, Or study cells, or living things, seek truth with open hand. The profoundest act of worship is to try to understand. Deep in flower and in flesh, in star and soil and seed, The truth has left its living word for anyone to read. So turn and look where best you think the story is unfurled. Humans wrote the Bible; God wrote the world.
6.
Little one, little one, bitter wind blown Little one, little one, bitter wind blown Sun barely rising above the horizon Little one, little one, bitter wind blown Flowers are withering, naked bark brittle oh, Little one, little one, bitter wind blown Good folk are gonna die, sun-god ain’t shedding tears Little one, little one, bitter wind blown I just stare at the sky, digging the graves each year Little one, little one, bitter wind blown Sun, sailing away. I don’t know where. I don’t know why. Oh…. sky. Darkening grey, Wishing there weren't so many goodbyes... ...little one, little one why... Maybe if we looked a while and found a stone, Little one, little one, bitter wind blown Dragged it a hundred miles… till we got it home, Little one, little one, bitter wind blown (We could) dig us a henge, raise those bluestones up high, Little one, little one, bitter wind blowin. (And in) two hundred years when we looked at the sky, oh, Little one, little one, bitter wind blown (And our) children would know just when winter was coming, Little one, little one, bitter wind blown Lookin’ and laboring, doing what must be done Little one, little one, bitter wind blown Sun, sailing away. I don’t know where. I don’t know why. Oh…. sky. Darkening grey, and I’m tired of saying goodbye… ...little one, little one why...
7.
My heart is beating. My breath is strong. I’m walkin’, runnin’, dancin’, playin’. Havin’ fun. The wheels inside my mind are turnin’, Thinkin’, feelin’, loving’, learning. Wonderin’ what kind of person I’ll become. And life ticks on, And lives connect And over time I Collect a little echo of your mind, and so, even when we're separated Even though it's not the same It's sort of nice to same your name And hear you whisper mine. My heart is skippin’. I take a nervous breath. I finally see your face again. It’s been so long since last you left. I got a little metal circle Hanging on my chest. As we collide, and intertwine, It presses cold against my breast. And life ticks on, And lives connect And over time I Collect a little echo of your mind, and so, even when we're separated Even though it's not the same It's sort of nice to same your name And hear you whisper mine. My heart is failin’ Breath is slow. I’m lookin’, longin’, lovin’, wishin’ That I didn’t have to go. I got a little metal circle Hangin’ round my neck. It’s got some little words inscribed, The doctors doublecheck. I don’t quite know if I’ll awaken. Don’t quite know what shape I’d take. I don’t quite know how things might change. I don’t quite know what world you would make... ...while I was gone. I don’t quite know. I don’t quite know how long. And life ticks on, And lives connect And over time I Collect a little echo of your mind, and so, even when we're separated Even though it's not the same It's sort of nice to same your name And hear you whisper mine.
8.
Countless winter nights ago, A woman shivered in the cold. Cursed the skies, and wondered why the gods invented pain. Aching angry flesh and bone, Bitterly she struck the stones Until... she saw that spark of light, and flame. And though… the others cried out heresy she defied them, proud.... set afire history Oh… Tomorrow can be brighter than today, although the night is cold…. the stars may seem so very far away... But courage, hope and reason burn, in every mind, each lesson learned, shining light to guide to our way, make tomorrow brighter than today.... Oh..... oh…... oh… brighter than today…. Ages long forgotten now, We built the wheel and then the plough. Tilled the earth and proved our worth, Against the drought and snow. Soon we had the time to fathom Mountain peaks and tiny atoms, Beating hearts electric sparks And so much more to know. Tomorrow can be brighter than today, although the night is cold…. the stars may seem so very far away... But courage, hope and reason burn, in every mind, each lesson learned, driving darkness far away, make tomorrow brighter than today.... Oh..... oh…… Oh..... oh…... oh… brighter than today…. The universe may seem unfair, the laws of nature may not care. Storms and quakes, our own mistakes They nearly doused our flame. But all these trials we’ve endured, With moral progress, ailments cured, Against our herculean task we’ve risen to proclaim. Tomorrow can be brighter than today, although the night is cold…. the stars may seem so very far away... But courage, hope and reason burn, in every mind, each lesson learned - Rise up to the stars and say: make tomorrow brighter than today.... Oh..... oh…… Oh..... oh…… Oh..... oh…… oh… brighter than today….
9.
Wide awake, late at night, choices to make in the 'morrow... Voices inside offer comforting lies... whispering reasons to not even try... Stakes are so high, don’t got much time left to borrow... ..oh.. Its time to just shut up, and do the impossible. Can’t walk away... Gotta break off those shackles, and shake off those chains Gotta make something impossible happen today..... Bold attempts aren't enough, roads can't be paved with intentions... You probably don’t even got what it takes, But you better try anyway, for everyone's sake And you won’t find the answer until you escape from the Labyrinth of your conventions. Its time to just shut up, and do the impossible. Can’t walk away... Gotta break off those shackles, and shake off those chains Gotta make something impossible happen today..... Gotta make something impossible happen today..... ….oh... Morning light rising, the sun so surprisingly Dire and cruel A flicker of hope in your mind is a’ churning. You don’t got much time now, Your whole world’s burning Got so many lessons in need of unlearning That once seemed so terribly crucial Its time to just shut up, and do the impossible. Can’t walk away... Gotta break off those shackles, and shake off those chains Gotta make something impossible happen. Its time to just shut up, and do the impossible. Can’t walk away… can’t walk away... Gotta break off those shackles, can’t take no excuses, We gotta make something impossible happen. Its time to just shut up, and do the impossible. Can’t walk away… can’t walk away... Gotta make yourself stronger, you don’t got much longer, We gotta make something impossible happen today... We gotta make something impossible happen today… We gotta make something impossible happen today...
10.
03:00
Hands chip the flint, light the fire, skin the kill Feet move the tribe track the herd with a will Humankind struggles on the edge of history Time to settle down, time to grow, time to breed Plow tills the soil, plants the seed, pray for rain Scythe reaps the wheat, to the mill, to grind the grain Towns and cities spread to empire overnight Hands keep building as we chant the ancient rite Coal heats the steam, push the piston, turns the wheel Cogs spin the wool, drives the horses made of steel Lightning harnessed does our will and lights the dark Keep rising higher, set our goal, hit the mark. Crawl out of the mud, Ongoing but slow, For the path that is easy Ain't the one that lets us grow! Light to push the sails, read the data, cities glow Hands type the keys, click the mouse, out we go! Our voices carry round the world and into space Send us out to colonize another place¸ Hands make the tools, build the fire, plant the grain. Feet track the herd, build a world, begin again.
11.
A possible child, Dreamin’ through the longest night. A possible smile, Wakin’ to a distant light. A whole world of possibilities, Tell me what you see. Where’s that child going? Tell me, Who’s that child gonna be? In five thousand years… (Whatcha want to do, whatcha wanna see, in another) Five thousand years… (Where we want to go, who we want to be, in another) In five thousand years If we boldly set our sight, Journey through the coldest night In five thousand years… We’ll build ourselves a brand new home, Raise the glass domes high. And in a century or three Our children might look at the sky. And then at last they’ll see That distant yellow sun. The cradle of humanity, And all the things we might become. In five thousand years… (Whatcha want to do, whatcha wanna see, in another) Five thousand years… (Where we want to go, who we want to be, in another) In five thousand years… If we sailed across the stars, Unimaginably far In five thousand years... (Instrumental break) And maybe good folk still might die, But maybe not, we gotta try. I don’t quite know what shape we’ll take. I don’t quite know what world we’ll make. I don’t quite know how things might change. I don’t quite know what rules we’ll break. Our present selves may think it strange, But there's so many lives at stake. Oh, entropy is bearin’ down, But we got tricks of sticking’ ‘round. And if we live to see the day, That yellow fades to red then grey, We’ll take a moment, one by one. Turn to face the dying sun. Bittersweetly wave good bye - The journey’s only just begun! In five thousand years… (Whatcha wanna do, whatcha wanna see, in another) Five million years… (Where we wanna go, who we wanna be, in another) In five billion years… When all that we once know is gone, We’ll find a way to carry on In five billion years. Five billion years… Whatcha want to do, whatcha wanna see, in another Five billion years… ….. Where we wanna go... who we wanna be...?

about

For thousands of years, in the dead of winter, humans have gathered together, telling stories of fickle sun gods, singing songs and made sacrifices.

We've changed a lot since then. We've grown stronger and wiser as a species. And a lot of the old stories we once told... don't really make sense any more.

But there's still something beautiful, about coming together on the longest night, joining your voices as one, and singing about things that are important to you. So last year, several communities came together for a Secular Solstice, to celebrate the story of humankind.

These are the songs we sang that night - music honoring the people of the past, who labored long and hard to build our modern world. As well as making a promise to the people of the future, to carry that torch forward.

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released June 6, 2014

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