This Sunday, February 26, we will feature some jazz selections at the morning service. One of those pieces is called “Break Not the Circle” with words by Fred Kaan (1929 – 2009). In the third verse Mr. Kaan says: “Join the movement of the love that frees, ‘till people of whatever race or nation will truly be themselves, stand on their feet, see eye to eye with laughter and elation.”
That seems like rather lofty, idealistic thinking. Yet, it was born out of real life circumstances. Kaan was in his teen years when growing up in the Netherlands, and it was the time of the Nazi occupation. He parents were both anti-Nazis and were active in hiding fugitives. In 1945, when there was a Nazi-induced famine in the Netherlands, three of his grandparents died as a result. Mr. Kaan had every reason to be doubtful about the above statement. Yet, he knew from first-hand experience that the circle of caring could not be broken if they were to survive. His call for human bonds to remain unbroken is a reminder to all of us that the something which connects us (by whatever name) is real and needs nurturing.
Mr. Kaan knew that ‘bondage’ and ‘bonding’ are two different worlds. In the first, one’s power is given up/over to someone else who wants power and control. In the latter, each person keeps their power and there is not a control issue. We are still working on that one. In biblical Hebrew writings one would have asked for protection from one’s enemies. Mr. Kaan goes beyond that. He asks for a love that “frees.” Who? Everyone. Why? Because we are all worthy.
The musical piece ends with several repetitions of “break not the circle.” Mr. Kaan is speaking of bonding in a positive way because it gives power to the people. So may it be.
I hope you can hear the jazz version of this on Sunday! and break not the circle!
— Rev. Edward Thompson