George Gershwin composed “Summertime” — the iconic song for the opera Porgy & Bess in 1933. Gershwin wanted to craft a spiritual in the style of an African American folk tune. The lyrics, based on Heyward Dubose’s poem, were inspired by the lullaby “All My Trials.” The song sings of a summer of loss and longing.
“Summertime” is sung several times throughout the opera. Its words are the first words heard. It is sung as a lullaby and reprised during a craps game. And in act three, Bess sings it one last time, to Clara’s now-orphaned child, his parents swept away in a hurricane, lost in the storm.
Summertime and the livin’ is easy. Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high. Oh, your daddy’s rich and your ma is good lookin’. So hush little baby, don’t you cry.
This stormy pandemic year, we too have experienced loss and untold trials. And now we are on the cusp of summer. Hopeful with our eyes uplifted to the sun, we are closing in on 40% of the country vaccinated. Parishioners are returning to the pews. Friends and family can visit. We can go on vacation!
Sort of, right? The virus is not through with us yet, but the road beckons and we are struck with wanderlust.
So, what will this summer feel like? What will Memorial Day through Labor Day look like with this past year behind us? Backpacking — or barbecuing in your backyard? Reading books on the beach — or running through the sprinkler? Catching up with folks unseen — or maybe you would rather catch fireflies?
Might you share your thoughts and plans with us in one or two ways?
1. Join us 11:30 a.m. May 9 on Zoom. Coffee-Hour-style we’ll take inventory of our summer itineraries and I will create a composite post and publish it right here on Emmanuel Voices, our parish blog.
2. Respond to this prompt: “Summertime and the livin’ is (blank.)” A poem, a picture, a story, a travelogue, a podcast. Short or long. Write your own post and email to Joani.
Take a listen to the song and give it some thought. Thanks so much to all our readers for considering: Guest bloggers are most welcome. The fruits of this project will be published on Emmanuel Voices throughout the month of May.
The Rev. Joani Peacock, Editor-in-Chief
The Rev. Joani Peacock, Editor for Emmanuel Voices: A Parish Blog