July 5–All Is Welcome Here: Grammar and Chanting

Don’t worry. I am not about to suggest that anyone begin chanting grammar!

Our song of the month is the only one in this 12 month series that does not appear in our Unitarian Universalist hymnals.  It originates within the work of the modern chant movement often referred to as Kirtan.  The song was written by a couple known as Miten and Premal.  About them we read on their website:

Flame carriers of a 5,000 year old tradition, Deva Premal and Miten are at the forefront of the burgeoning world-wide chant phenomenon.

They are one of the major contributors to the soundtrack of just about every 21st century alternative healing modality, from rehab/detox/stress management clinics to yoga studios, spas and meditation centres, shamanic gatherings and ceremonies in the depths of the Amazon, and throughout the world.

Merging ancient mantras of India and Tibet with contemporary musical settings, their debut album The Essence introduced a unique musical genre. The album rocked to the top of World and New Age charts where it still remains. (Deva Premal: The Essence – 1999).

In the worship committee’s selection of song themes, Daniel and Sherree Bailey suggested this one.  Daniel did follow up work and secured for us permission to use the
song in our services. In turn, because of that, Michael Parker, our choir director, has been able to write it for us so that we have the music in front of us in a form for congregational singing.

Which leads to a pesky little grammar question.  Shouldn’t it be “all are welcome here?” We actually talked about this a year ago.  As soon as you read and/or sing the words of the song, you begin to understand.  If the title meant “all people” then it should be “are” and not “is”, but we understand that the song is after something even larger.  Not only are “all people” welcome here, but “all manner of human experience on the journey of life” is welcome here.

Not convinced?  Go to a grammar reference.  There you will find that the English word “all” is a distributive adjective which can be used to describe any number of unnamed and uncounted items.  In those circumstances, it is used with a singular verb.  That’s how it is being used in the song.  “All” can also be used to describe any number of named and numbered nouns and is then used with a plural verb.  Ironically, while we don’t want to post bad grammar on our sign out front or on our Order of Service, I think we would agree that we also welcome users of bad grammar, and that can be all of us at one time or another! The bottom line is that “all is welcome here” is good and correct usage. Here is the first verse of the song, and below that, a youtube version.  Enjoy!

Bob Patrick

Broken hearts and broken wings
Bring it all and everything
And bring the song you fear to sing
All is welcome here
Even if you broke your vow a thousand times
Come anyhow
We’re stepping into the power of now
And all is welcome here

 

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2 Responses to July 5–All Is Welcome Here: Grammar and Chanting

  1. Daniel Bailey says:

    The first time I heard this song I had an image of literally every being singing it while feeling a rapturous embrace of love and compassion! My second image was of us as a congregation being an ecstatic welcoming committee for All That Is!

  2. Lydia says:

    Great dive into the meaning of the words!

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