From the recording Where the Light Lives

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The story of Anna Marie Olson Hanson, Joy’s great-grandmother, from orphan in Norway to immigrant in Minnesota in the late 1800s, ending with an acapella fiddle solo to reflect her deep faith.


How Shall We Sing
for Anna Marie Olson Hanson, my great grandmother
Words & Music by Joy Zimmerman

Each Norway morn alone I tend the sheep
Fields of frost pierce my bare feet
A girl of eight moving farm to farm
My mother lives no more

How shall I sing in this strange place
No warmth of home, no kind embrace
Your plows reap, sow again
This ground will break, but I go on

On my own since 1853
For another life I’ll cross the sea
I serve rich folks to pay the fare
My new husband awaits me there

How shall I sing in this new land
Mountains lost only prairie grass
A house of sod, moss-filled cracks
Roots I dig, a new life I plant

Ten children borne, spun clothes by hand
My eldest drowned as a young man
Locusts stole our crops, sickness spread
On earthen floors we’re fed

And still we sing in this new land
Tools we share, wheat turns to bread
We ford deep streams in Sunday dress
In church we sing hymns of the past
With new words we sing