Contemplation Chant

The Bird Sings Oral Tradition Song Library

Contemplation Chant

This is one of the simplest and most satisfying layer songs I’ve ever found. It can be taught to a group of novice singers and sound beautiful within minutes. The arrangement inspired by Sara Thomsen deviates quite a bit from Sophia Songhealer’s original and she gave her blessing for the song’s use in this way.

Composer & Copyright

Original song by Sophia Songhealer. Arrangement inspired by Sara Thomsen. Used with permission.


Recording by Lisa G. Littlebird & Li Buzzard.



Om mani padme hum
Buddhist. Translation of Sanskrit: “The sound of silence. The jewel in the lotus.”

La illaha, il Allah hu
Islam. Translation of Arabic: “There is no God but God” 

Jewish. Translation of Hebrew: “Peace” 

Hindu. Translation of Sanskrit: “Peace” 

Gloria in excelsis Deo
Christian. Translation of Latin: “Glory to God in the highest.” 

Teaching Notes

Often when teaching this with a new group I teach the first three parts and get them going and just add the Gloria part myself as a fun surprise. After the group is going I can then bring other into the Gloria part with me instantly and without stopping the song because it’s already familiar to most. One detail I personally attempt to correct because it is a small mistake I see happening very often is the pronunciation of “in excelsis Deo”, all i’s are pronounced with a long “ee” sound, so proper pronunciation is “eeen ekshellsees”.


Level of teaching speed/ difficulty (1 = very easy, 10 = very challenging)

  • Salvia Starling

    This is such a fabulous song! I’ve seen it with an added layer of a native American prayer, although I couldn’t find the tune anywhere to figure out how it fit. I also discovered that you can sing the first verse of the south African national anthem with it to great effect!
    Thank you, as always, for sharing this with us all <3

  • Emma Trenorden

    I shared this with our small community choir, thinking it would be a good warm up. It has become a favourite piece, with people wanting to sing different parts each time we sing it and playing around with layering parts in and out. Thank you for sharing this uplifting, joyful chant.

    • Jen Kazen

      Thank you for sharing with your community!

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