Fall 2013 concert - photo by Gary Clarke

“Hoping Machine” program notes

Hoping Machine

Greetings! And welcome to you all this afternoon. We are the Family Folk Machine, and we are delighted that you have chosen to spend this time with us as we explore in song the theme of hope, and the many ways we experience and express hope in our lives together.
You have heard our opening song, in which we are encouraged to keep our own dreamers and hoping machines in order. Hope is often experienced as expectation, waiting for something that we believe will bring happiness. Whether it is Linus waiting for the great pumpkin to arise, or waiting for Santa to bring joy, waiting for school to be out for vacation, or, as in our next number, waiting for Quinn the Eskimo.


In music and in other arts also, hope is often represented by light. Our next two numbers are examples of this. In Light a Candle, the candle light offers hope to those who follow us. Following that, we will hear the Beatles’ Let It Be, in which peace of mind is experienced as a light that ‘shines on me.’

Light a Candle

Let It Be

Sometimes, hope is what carries us through difficulties. We can persevere because we have confidence that things will work out and get better. In Blackbird, offered by the older kids of the Family Folk Machine, we see this confidence in a future overcoming adversity. This will be followed by How Can I Keep from Singing, a song which insists on living in joy, even in the midst of trials.


How Can I Keep from Singing

A slightly different twist on the idea of light as representing hope is the idea of hope represented by dawn, by sunrise. The faithfulness of the coming of day is a reason to look to the future as full of possibility. We see this in our next song, Quite Early Morning. Following this number, there will be a 10- minute intermission, and then we will be back with you for the second half of our program.

Quite Early Morning


Welcome back to the second half of our program as we continue to look at how we discover and celebrate hope in our lives. Music and literature are replete with examples of hope being pursued as a quest, a journey. Our next two songs are firmly in this tradition. First, Come and Go with Me to that Land will feature some of our kids as soloists. As you might guess when you hear them, the verses of this song are not the traditional ones, but have been written by our kids as examples of what they might hope for. That will be followed by Follow the Drinking Gourd, a song about the quest for freedom and the courageous men and women who sought to escape from slavery and those who helped them on their way.

Come and Go

Follow the Drinking Gourd

Just as hope is seen in the reliability of the sunrise after night, so it is also seen in the reliability of the seasons of the year, particularly the coming of spring after winter. In our next song the persistence of nature is celebrated as the promise of the spring is extended. Julian of Norwich was an anchoress and a mystic, and her writings express hopeful themes despite the fact that she lived during the fearful time of the Black Plague.

Julian of Norwich

The Family Folk Machine is especially happy today to be bringing you a premiere of a new song written by our own Stella Demarest and her mom Katie Roche. In Fall Song, also, we see the optimism in the passing of seasons as well as the youthful confidence that each season brings its own pleasures. You can always find ways to have fun.

Fall Song

So hope may be experienced in the turning of the seasons, but for some of us who have watched that turning many times, it may not be so clearly hopeful. How do we see hope as we grow older? Here in the Family Folk Machine, one way is to celebrate these great young people that we sing with. We can see a hopeful future right here in front of us. But beyond that, we find hope in our relationships with one another. In our next song, sung by Ben and Buffy, we see the joy of relationship, the peace of knowing that we do not have to be perfect to be OK, that being loved is what matters most

The Point of It

The point of being loved is also the theme of our final song on our program today. Our hope is in being in this together, singing in harmony, as the song says. After the concert, we hope you will join us for some refreshments and conversation. Thank you so much for coming. We hope that you have enjoyed our music, and if you would like more, we will be performing three songs at the Festival of Carols at the Englert Theater on December 11 at 7:00 p.m. with free admission. And now: Precious Friend.

Precious Friend