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“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
The prayer is attributed to American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892 - 1971) and is often used to begin and end 12-Step Meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Al-Anon.
I often wished that I could set The Serenity Prayer to music so that I could hum along in my scritchety voice when I needed to soothe my worried mind and reach a more serene state. Research suggests that music itself, especially slow, peaceful music, can reduce stress by lowering stress hormones, blood pressure, and heart rate. Music can also help us attain a meditative focus, so that the mind doesn’t latch onto problems and obsess over them. And singing induces deep breathing, which itself is relaxing, and reduces tension.
Since I’m no composer, I racked my brain for a familiar melody that would match the words of the prayer. I also consulted YouTube, but the versions I found there were either too difficult for an ordinary person to sing or too sentimental for my taste.
While I was washing the dishes a few months ago, the long-sought-after tune finally came to me. I realized that the phrase “God grant me the serenity” fit exactly into the first line of the well-known Christmas carol, O Tannenbaum (“O Christmas Tree”)! From there, it was relatively easy, with a little shoe-horning and stretching, to add the rest. Below is the final product, ready to be sung either for your holiday pleasure or at any time of year. So that it doesn’t become an “earworm,” I recommend singing it slowly and pausing after each line. If you are not religious, use “O” instead of “God.” (I’ve used one of each in the arrangement below.)
The Serenity Prayer
(To the tune of “O Tannenbaum”)
God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
O grant me the courage
To change the things I can.
To accept the things I cannot change
To change the things I can
And the wisdom, the wisdom to know the diff-er-ence.
(Repeat) And the wisdom, the wisdom to know the difference.
So, in thanks for following my blog throughout the year, this musical version of the Serenity Prayer is my holiday gift for you. You can sing it with friends, family, or your choir. Or, like me, you can hum it peacefully to yourself while you do the dishes.
© Meg Selig
Source: Jane Collingwood, “The Power of Music to Reduce Stress:” http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-power-of-music-to-reduce-stress/000930