This new song for congregation or choir uses only three words for its text -- peace, salaam, shalom -- three words commonly used in the three great Abrahamic religions, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism . . . universally-understood words of peace, greeting, and blessing. The song was composed in just a few minutes on the scrap of a worship bulletin at my home church's annual retreat at Beersheba Springs in Tennessee ?? hence the name of the tune.
We had just prayed for peace in the Middle East, safety for U.S. troops in Iraq, and for all victims of that war. We sing, Give Peace, 2156 in The Faith We Sing over and over in both English and Latin, as is the custom with Taizé songs. While the tragedies of the Middle East conflict are also economic and political, too often they are religious -- with all factions claiming God on their side. Perhaps we need a song that unites those factions in prayer, in song, and in language.
Peace, Salaam, Shalom, should be sung repeatedly in the manner of the Taizé Community, as a prayer, not too fast. The measures between the words give an opportunity for the use of solo instruments or even improvised choral repetition of the text as countermelody. It is cast in the minor mode common to much of the music of this region, and we should resist the western urge to end on a major chord. And it's in a guitar-friendly key.