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Cherish Your Doubt

An affirmation of doubt, that vital component of belief
Poet/Lyricist: 
Elizabeth Alexander
Commissioned by Vox Femina Los Angeles / Iris Levine

This vibrant work uses the energy and immediacy of gospel music to affirm that most important component of belief: doubt. A soulful opening solo leads to the chorus’ response, a bold declaration alive with full-bodied chords and incisive lyrics.

The opening solo may be sung in a different octave or with vocal improvisation. An optional upright bass part is available separately. Performance with a drum kit is entirely appropriate.

  • Cherish Your Doubt may also be performed as part of the concert-length work, Go Out!
  • This song is included on the CD, Finally On My Way To Yes, which may be ordered below. Individual tracks may be downloaded at the following online stores:

iTunes

Item Instrumentation/Voicing Duration Level Audio Peruse Delivery Method (Print vs. Digital) Price Quantity
SEA-063-01 SATB, piano (Optional: bass/drums) - Choral Score
5' M https://seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/sites/seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/files/works_variant_audio_files/cherish_your_doubt_satb.mp3 Sheet Music $3.00
SEA-063-01DEL SATB, piano (Optional: bass/drums) - Choral Score
5' M https://seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/sites/seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/files/works_variant_audio_files/cherish_your_doubt_satb.mp3 Licensed PDF $3.00
SEA-063-02 SSAA, piano (Optional: bass/drums) - Choral Score
5' M https://seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/sites/seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/files/works_variant_audio_files/cherish_your_doubt_ssaa.mp3 Sheet Music $3.00
SEA-063-02DEL SSAA, piano (Optional: bass/drums) - Choral Score
5' M https://seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/sites/seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/files/works_variant_audio_files/cherish_your_doubt_ssaa.mp3 Licensed PDF $3.00
SEA-063-03F All Voicings - Double Bass/Bass Guitar Part
(Click on PDF icon to download part)
5' ME Free PDF $0.00
SEA-CD-01 Finally on My Way to Yes - CD
60' https://seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/sites/seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/files/works_variant_audio_files/finally_on_my_way_to_yes_0.mp3 CD $7.00

Cherish Your Doubt

Lyrics by Elizabeth Alexander

Springtime without winter would enter with a yawn,
And dawn without the night would be a tedium of light.
Reunion follows parting, renewal follows death,
And our songs of love have grown
From the very seeds our doubt has sown.
Without a doubt, our hearts and minds would never grow,
Without a doubt, our dreams would have nowhere to go,
Without a doubt, we'd never change the status quo.
Yes, without a doubt, we'd be hanging on
To notions that are better gone,
So try to love the questions,
Those thorny, thorny questions.
Trust your intuition, and cherish your doubt.

Cherish your doubt, don't throw it out.
That's what true belief is about.
With a faith both tempered and strong,
Questioning only helps it along,
Use your eyes and ears and hands and heart and mind,
And what you find may change the world,
So don't throw it out, don't throw it out —
Cherish your doubt.

Cherish your doubt, don't throw it out.
Mighty oaks can weather a drought.
Any faith worth taking to heart,
Tested a bit, will not fall apart.
Use your eyes and ears and hands and heart and mind,
And what you find may change the world,
So don't throw it out, don't throw it out —
Cherish your doubt.

(Don't be afraid of what you'll find.
Leave your darkest fears behind.)

Cherish your doubt, don't throw it out.
That's one thing you can't do without.
When you walk that less-traveled route,
Wonderful new ideas may sprout.
Use your eyes and ears and hands and heart and mind,
And what you find may change the world,
So don't throw it out, don't throw it out —
Cherish your doubt.

(Cherish your doubt) Call on your reason and compassion
(Cherish your doubt) Although it may not be in fashion
(Cherish your doubt) Don't be afraid of what you'll find
(Cherish your doubt) Just leave your fears behind

Cherish your doubt, don't you ever refuse it;
You can move a whole mountain if you use it —
Cherish your doubt.

A different drummer you will hear when you cherish your doubt.
You haven't anything to fear when you cherish your doubt.
That's what true belief is about — don't throw it out!

Composer's Note: 

During my final semester in college, I was invited to attend a church service just outside of Wooster, Ohio – my first experience with what is now my chosen faith, Unitarian Universalism. It is also the smallest worship service I’ve ever attended, both then and now. Sitting in a circle in a barn, twelve congregants gave their full attention to a soft-spoken layperson, who gave a thoughtful meditation entitled “Cherish Your Doubts,” inspired by a writing by Robert T. Weston.

Twenty years later, I remembered how powerful that experience was. Would it be possible, I wondered, for a gospel choir to praise not only the awesome power of faith, but also the spiritual journey of doubt?

Reviews and Responses: 

"We performed it last month, and loved every minute of learning and performing it."  - Nancy Starr, Director of Music, Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church (Oak Ridge, TN)

Performers: 

SATB
Premiere: Choir of Unity Church-Unitarian of Saint Paul / Ruth Palmer (St. Paul, MN)
Arizona Unitarian Universalist Choral Festival / Elizabeth Alexander (Chandler, AZ)
Buxmont Choir / John Hook (Warrington, PA)
Canfield Village Middle School Cardinal Chorale / Stephanie Summer. Ohio Music Educators Association Conference (Cleveland, OH)
Choir of Allen Avenue Unitarian Universalist Church / Dale Churchill (Portland, OR)
Choir of Buxmont Unitarian Universalist Fellowship / John Hook (Warrington, PA)
Choir of Eliot Unitarian Chapel / Leon Burke III (Kirkwood, MO)
Choir of Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church of Cayoga Park, CA / Galina Barskaya (Canoga Park, CA)
Choir of First Parish in Milton, MA / Emma Jean Moulton (Milton, MA)
Choir of First Parish of Sudbury / Debra Morris-Bennett (Sudbury, MA)
Choir of First Unitarian Church of Baltimore / Jim Houston. (Baltimore, MD)
Choir of First Unitarian Church of Lynchburg, VA (Lynchburg, VA)
Choir of First Unitarian Society of Denver / Sharon Pitchford (Denver, CO)
Choir of First Unitarian Universalist Church of Rochester, MN / Joe Mish (Rochester, MN)
Choir of First Universalist Church of Rochester, NY / Silviya Mateva (Rochester, NY)
Choir of Jefferson Unitarian Church of Golden, CO / Keith Arnold (Golden, CO)
Choir of Kingston Unitarian Fellowship / Phyllis Robbins (Kingston , ON)
Choir of Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church / Nancy Starr (Oak Ridge, TN)
Choir of Plymouth Congregational Church / Mary Laymon (Minneapolis, MN)
Choir of Second Unitarian Church of Chicago / Blake Adams (Chicago, IL)
Choir of Theodore Parker Church / James Johnson (West Roxbury, MA)
Choir of Unitarian Society of Germantown / Mark Daugherty (Philadelphia, PA)
Choir of Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Bridgeport / Martha Meyer (Stratford, CT)
Choir of Unitarian Universalist Church of San Mateo / Shawn Reifschneider (San Mateo, CA)
Choir of Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Washington County / Susan Peck (Hillsboro, OR)
Choir of Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Eau Claire / Laurel Kieffer (Eau Claire, WI)
Choir of Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Frederick / Kevin Tarsa (Grand Traverse, MI)
Choir of Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Frederick / Deb Int Veldt (Frederick, MD)
Choir of Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Marin / Philip Hildreth (San Rafael, CA)
Choir of Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Athens, GA / Amber Fetner (Athens, GA)
Choir of Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Centre County, PA / Amanda Silliker (State College, PA)
Choir of Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Gainesville / Ruth Lewis (Gainesville, FL)
Choir of Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of LaCrosse / Becky Post (LaCrosse, WI)
Choir of Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Vancouver / Patrick Scofield (Vancouver, BC CANADA)
Choir of Unitarian-Universalist Church of Ann Arbor / Sarah Albright (Ann Arbor, MI)
Choir of Unitarian-Universalist Church of Eugene / Tom Sears (Eugene, OR)
Choir of Unitarian‑Universalist Church of Rockford, IL / Tim Anderson (Rockford, IL)
Choir of Unity Church-Unitarian of Saint Paul / Ruth Palmer. Prairie Star UU District Choir Festival (Mahtomedi, MN)
Choir of Unity Church-Unitarian of Saint Paul and One Voice Mixed Chorus / Ruth Palmer. CD Release Party (St. Paul, MN)
Choir of Valley Unitarian Universalist Church / Kellie Walker (Chandler, AZ)
Choir of West Hills Unitarian Fellowship / Allison Wilski (Portland, OR)
Choir of West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church / Dave Blazer (Rocky River, OH)
Choirs of Eliot Unitarian Chapel / Leon Burke III (Kirkwood, MO)
Combined Choirs from seven regional churches. Southeastern Wisconsin Unitarian Universalist Choralfest (Waukesha, WI)
Combined Choirs from Southeastern Wisconsin / Twila Bergeron. Southeast Wisconsin Unitarian Universalist Council (Mequon, WI)
Combined Choirs of Southeast Michigan / Sarah Albright. Southeast Michigan Unitarian Universalist Choral Festival (Ann Arbor, MI)
Desert Chorale of Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson / Brian Moon (Tucson, AZ)
Lawrence University Viking Chorale / Steve Sicek (Appleton, WI)
Lesbian and Gay Chorus of Washington D.C. with Suede / C Paul Heins. Annual LGBT Benefit Auction (Washington, DC)
Meetinghouse Choir of First Parish in Milton, MA / Emma Jean Moulton (Milton, MA)
Meetinghouse Choir of First Unitarian Society of Madison, WI / Dan Broner (Madison, WI)
National General Assembly of Unitarian Universalist Association, General Assembly Choir / Leon Burke III (Portland, OR)
Ohio University Singers / Peter Jarjisian. Ohio University Honors Band, Instrumental and Choral Festival (Athens, OH)
Renew! Reunite! Rejoice! - 9 Detroit area choirs / Abha Dearing. Renew! Reunite! Rejoice! Choral Festival (Detroit, MI)
San Mateo Unitarian Universalist Festival Choir / Shawn Reifschneider (San Mateo, CA)
Southeast Michigan Unitarian Universalist Festival Choral / Sarah Albright (Ann Arbor, MI)
Unitarian Universalist Central MidWest District Choir / Rubin Piirainen (Madison, WI)
Vocal Ensemble of Unitarian Universalist Church of Grand Traverse / Kevin Tarsa (Traverse City, MI)
Youth Choir of Community Church of Chapel Hill / Glen Mehrbach (Chapel Hill, NC)

SSAA
Premiere: Vox Femina Los Angeles with guest vocalist Suede / Iris Levine (Los Angeles, CA)
Anna Crusis Women's Choir / Miriam Davidson (Philadelphia, PA)
Belle Canto / Elizabeth Goldstein (Sarasota, FL)
Choir of First Congregational Church of Montclair / Julie Morgan (Montclair, NJ)
Grand Rapids Women's Chorus / Lori Tennenhouse (Grand Rapids, MI)
Mansfield University Women's Chorus / Peggy Dettwiler (Mansfield, PA)
Mansfield University Women's Chorus / Peggy Dettwiler. Pennsylvania Music Educators Association Conference (Folsom, PA)
OMEA Festival Choir / Peter Jarjisian. Ohio Music Educator's Association Choir Festival (Warren, OH)
The Huntsville Feminist Chorus / Pamela Siegler (Huntsville, AL)
University of North Carolina Women's Glee Club / Sue Klausmeyer (Chapel Hill, NC)
UW Eau Claire Women's Concert Choir / J Michele Edwards (Galway, IRELAND and Belfast, NORTHERN IRELAND)

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