Angels Hovering Round – More Info

Angels hovering round is a recording of eighteen healing, calming and uplifting songs from all over the world. You can read information about each song below.

Song Information

Stephen Spitzer
used by permission

We named our group after this beautiful song written by Stephen (one of the Hallowell singers) after the death of his good friend from Hallowell, Maine. The name “Hallowell “ sounds close to hallowed which means sacred or reverent. The name suits us and the song speaks to how we feel about the mystery and beauty of death.

Plovi Barko
Croatia arr. Mary Cay Brass

This is a song from the Adriatic coast. It tells of a sail boat carrying beautiful Anka, whose eyes are as deep as the sea. You can feel the peaceful quieting rhythm of ocean waves in this song. Perhaps the watery sounds help ease the transition from this world to the next.

By the Waters of Babylon
c. Brent Dowe & Trevor McNaughton
arr. Peter Amidon 1998

This arrangement is inspired by Sweet Honey in the Rock’s performance of the piece. Peter used their version of the melody and Ysaye Barnwell’s contrapuntal bass line.

I Still Have Joy
arr. Peter Amidon c. 1998

A beautiful lively arrangement of a gospel song the Amidons learned from the Whiteville Appareil Gospel Choir in the early 90’s. One of our favorites to sing at nursing homes or anywhere we want to remind folks of the joy in our living.

Thuma Mina
South African freedom song
Larry Crockett, soloist

Sometimes singing in other languages is just what is needed in certain situations when we don’t want to draw the dying person out of the world they are gently entering. This song is often used quietly in that respect, as a soothing place to rest within.

I Will Guide Thee
arr. Peter Amidon c. 2000
Lynn Mahoney, soloist

The Amidons learned this hymn at a 1975 Greater Boston Folk Music
Society Sunday morning gospel sing.

Ron Kavana arr. Barry Coope
used by permission

A group of us first learned this song at a Village Harmony camp in Lucton England in 2002. It was taught to us by Kate Howard and found its way into our hearts where it has remained. Ron Kavana originally conceived this piece as a love song with a difference which is essentially a plea for peace and understanding for the north and south of Ireland. It has since been used as an international peace anthem, a church hymn and a Christmas carol. And of course, it has found its way into our hospice repertoire, perhaps spreading peace in ways we can’t even imagine.

I’ll Fly Away
Valerie Kosednar, soloist

If we could all feel this joyful about our eventual dying, what might
our living be like? This spirited song has brought light and spirit to
many families.

Down to the Valley to Pray


This familiar Appalachian tune brings joy through its harmonies and repetitive verses, often inviting people to sing along with us. If Ye Love Me
Thomas Tallis (c.1505-1585)

Tallis was one of the most influential English composers of his generation, as well as one of the most popular renaissance composers of today. Singing this song around a quiet bedside evokes a feeling of distant bells ringing in an ancient cathedral somewhere in the English countryside.

Khvalitye Imya Ghospodnye
Russian Orthodox hymn from the liturgical tradition.
The translation is, “Praise the name of God”.

We often use this song in situations where the need for quiet and reverence is strong. We have sung it over and over so it becomes almost a chant creating a calm and meditative energy for the singers and for those being sung to.

O Sing to me of Heaven
Traditional arr. Ginny Hawker/Kay Justice
used by permission
Kathy Leo, soloist

The poetic lyrics say it all. We often choose to sing this in close to death situations. When we first learned it, we knew instantly that it would be one of the favorites in our repertoire.

Onawa’s Waltz
John Krumm
used by permission

This song was written for Onawa Pardini who was 14 years old at the time. News of a car accident that left her in a coma came during the time John was at Ashokan fiddle camp. Her family had asked that friends stop every evening at a certain time to think of her and send love. They sang this song for her. She died 6 months later. Onawa’s spirit has helped many others move on through this beautiful waltz. Maybe they’re all dancing together somewhere in the heavens.

New Jerusalem
American shape note hymn by Jeremiah Ingalls
text by Issac Watts

This is one of our most upbeat and spirited songs. We love to sing this one in nursing homes. It always causes smiles, foot tapping and raised spirits.

Bid You Goodnight
Traditional from the singing of Pinder family
arr. Peter Amidon 1999
Mary Alice Amidon, soloist

This arrangement is a transcription of the Amidon family’s version of the Yorkshire, England Waterson/Carthy family’s version of the Bahama based Pinder family’s singing of this exuberant funeral song.

Angels Hovering Round
Mary Alice Amidon, soloist

This is one of the many wonderful old hymns that Lucy Simpson gleaned out of her huge collection of old hymnals and put back into circulation. We feel the angels always, guiding us on our journey as we bring this ministry of song into the world.

How Could Anyone Ever Tell You
words and music by Libby Roderick
c. Libby Roderick Music 1988
arr. Peter Amidon 2000 
BMI all rights reserved.

When we sing this song, we look into the eyes of those listening. There is no question we feel the connection between souls when we sing these simple but powerful words:

How could anyone ever tell you you were anything less than beautiful How could anyone ever tell you you were less than whole How could anyone fail to notice that your loving is a miracle how deeply you’re connected to my soul. Gaelic Blessing words traditional irish
music c. 1996 Deborah J. Anderson
used by permission

Deborah not only gave us permission but gave us her blessing to record this song because she loves the way it is being used in the world. The simplicity and beauty of this song, sung a cappella, though written with piano accompaniment, is offered in the spirit of our final prayer on this recording.