Songs for May Day -- and Beyond



[There are two May Days. One, celebrated for millennia in "pagan"  Earth-centered spiritual communites, was celebrated by dancing around a Maypole. In American elementary schools until at least the 1940s, it was celebrated that way every year. The second May Day arose from strikes by American labor unions in the 1880s demanding an 8-hour day, and spread  throughout much of the world to become the festival of Labor and Socialist parties and in many countries, a national holiday. The "Internationale" became a song to celebrate world-wide solidarity of workers. Here, set with new words, it celebrates all life and the need to heal the Earth from corporate greed and destruction. It is no accident that the Justice energy of the second May Day bursts forh in the spring, just as new life is breaking forth frrom underground. These songs go well with one or the other, or both, May Days. The time has come to reunite them into one!--  AW, ed.]

The Earth Internationale

(Melody of the Internationale; orchestral version is at
Words by Rabbi Arthur Waskow)

Arise, ye prisoners of pollution;
Arise, ye poisoned of the Earth!
We dance to make a revolution—
A joyful world’s in birth!

No more the corporate smoke shall blind us,
We can hear the trees and oceans call --
Humankind amid Earth's breathing life-forms—
Together we are all!

As we face the crisis of all history,
Let us rise to heal our Place.
To save our deeply wounded planet
We must wake the human race!


 We Have  the Whole World In Our Hands

(If Possible, Passing a Globe from Hand to Hand)

We have the whole world in our hands,
We have the coral reefs and glaciers in our hands,
We  have the wind and the honeybees in our hands,

We have the rivers and the mountains in our hands,
We have the frogs and kangaroos in our hands
We have you and me in our hands,
We have the whole world in our hands.

We have the trees and tigers in our hands,
We have our sisters and our brothers in our hands,
We have our children and their children in our hands,

[Add new lines and verses ad lib -- that is, freely.]


[Set to the melody of “Michael Row the Boat Ashore.” Melody suggested by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi; translation in part by him and by Rabbi Arthur Waskow]

Praise God, sun and moon, Hallelu-Yah.
Praise Yah, you stars of light, Hallelu-Yah.
Praise God, you high heavens, Hallelu-Yah.
All that flows in all the world, Hallelu-Yah.

Let them all praise God's Name, Hallelu-Yah.
For God spoke and they appeared, Hallelu-Yah.
With God they take their stand, Hallelu-Yah.
God's rhythm none must break, Hallelu-Yah.

Praise Yah from the Earth, Hallelu-Yah.
You sea-monsters and all deeps, Hallelu-Yah.
Fire, hail, snow, and steam, Hallelu-Yah.
Stormy wind to do God's word, Hallelu-Yah.

Mountains high and tiny hills, Hallelu-Yah.
Trees of fruit and evergreens, Hallelu-Yah.
Wild beasts and quiet flocks, Hallelu-Yah.
Creeping bugs and winged birds, Hallelu-Yah.

Men and women, young and old, Hallelu-Yah!
Leaders high; officials low, Hallelu-Yah.
Whole societies and peoples, Hallelu-Yah.
Every breath of all that lives, Hallelu=Yah!

Go Down Moses (with new verse)

When Israel was in Egypt’s land, Let My people go;
Oppressed so hard they could not stand, Let My people go;
Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt’s land,
Tell old Pharaoh: Let My people go!

The pillar of cloud shall clear the way, Let My people go;
A fire by night, a shade by day, Let My people go.
Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt’s land,
Tell old Pharaoh: Let My people go!

As Israel stood by the water-side, Let My people go;
At God’s command it did divide, Let My people go.
Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt’s land,
Tell old Pharaoh: Let My people go!

When they had reached the other shore, Let My people go;
They sang the song of freedom o’er, Let My people go.
Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt’s land,
Tell old Pharaoh: Let My people go!

NOW Act so Earth is bondage free, Let ALL My peoples go;
And let all life be free to Be, Let air and water flow.
Go down, Moses, way down in every land,
Tell ALL Pharaohs: Let My creation grow!

My Rainbow Race  (By Pete Seeger)


One blue sky above us
 One ocean lapping all our shore
One earth so green and round
Who could ask for more?

And because I love you
I'll give it one more try
To show my rainbow race
It's too soon to die.

Some folks want to be like an ostrich,
Bury their heads in the sand.
Some hope that plastic dreams
Can unclench all those greedy hands.
Some hope to take the easy way: Poisons, bombs. They think we need 'em.
Don't you know you can't kill all the unbelievers? There's no shortcut to freedom.


Go tell, go tell all the little children.
Tell all the mothers and fathers too.
Now's our last chance to learn to share
What's been given to me and you. [Chorus]

Circle round for freedom (By Linda Hirschhorn)

Circle round for freedom,
circle round for peace.
For all of us imprisoned,
circle for release.

Circle for the planet,
circle for each soul.
For the children of our children,
keep the circle whole.

Morning Has Broken  (Words by Eleanor Farjeon)

Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the Word.

Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall, on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where God’s feet pass.

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God's recreation of the new day




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