Healing Water, The

Arranger: Penelope Salinger
Composer: Penelope Salinger
Lyricist: Penelope Salinger

Healing Water, The 20230205

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My friend Teresa Fanucchi likes to ask me: “Did you really write this, Penelope?” (She thinks “The Healing Water” sounds like it has been around for many decades.) To answer honestly, I have to say that, no, I didn’t “write” it. In April 2012, while attending my first All-Choir Gathering at Bishops Ranch, I picked up a book called “River Boy,” which Claire Paul had contributed to the Treasure Table. I decided I would finish it quickly so that I could put it back for someone else to enjoy. So, the night before I was due to leave, I stayed up late reading it. The next morning, while showering, I noticed that I was singing a song that I’d never heard before. I then realized that, while I slept, immersed in the themes of the book, I’d been given the song as a gift. I arrived at the dining hall and shared the song with the people at my table. It was soon time for announcements, so they encouraged me to take the microphone and sing the brand new song to the assembled participants. It was such a great feeling to hear the group pick it up right away and add harmonies!

When I got home and began working out the notation and the harmonies, I started hearing a “swing” variation. So I notated that version as well. I happened to email Sue Ribaudo around that time, and, when I mentioned the swing version, she replied that she could hear a reggae version. So I created that variation, too. When I shared this news with my local choir in Santa Barbara, Teresa Fanucchi joked: “I suppose you’re going to do a tango version next.” So I did! Nine years later, when preparing to record “The Healing Water” for my CD “To Remember Who We Are,” I created two more variations—an “echo” version and a “hymn” version. Then I also added images to create a video, which is available on YouTube.

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[2023.02.05—Songwriter’s Note added; subtitle dropped.]


I let the river, the healing water,
I let the river carry me home.
I let the river wash away sorrow,
I let the river carry me home.

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