The Hippo


May 25, 2020








Find a community chant near you
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Comfort Inn
Where: 10 Hotel Drive, Dover
When: Second Sunday of the month at 10 a.m.
Holiday Inn
Where: 2280 Brown Ave., Manchester
When: Third Thursday of the month at 7:30 p.m.
Exeter Public Library
Where: 4 Chestnut St., Exeter
When: Fourth Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m.
Keene Public Library
Where: 60 Winter St., Keene
When: Second Thursday of each month at 7 p.m.

Say it together
Make connections at a community chant

By Allie Ginwala

Trying to bring more peace and harmony to their lives, people are gathering together to sing “HU” at public chants held throughout New Hampshire.

Phil Levesque, chant facilitator, has been leading HU songs for 30 years. 
“HU is a name for God, it’s a sound of God, it’s a song to chant that we use to kind of align ourselves with what we think of as God,” he said in a phone interview. 
Community chants have only been offered in the state for a few years, Levesque said. They began as a way to let people of any faith or background try out an open chant in different venues. 
“We decided to call it the community HU chant and make it a very simple, public event,” he said.
Eckankar, religion of light and sound of God, has been in New Hampshire since the 1970s and uses HU singing in worship services. Eckankar sponsors the event, but its principles aren’t shared at the community chants. 
“Whatever religion or spiritual practice a person is in, that’s what’s right for them,” Levesque said. 
“HU appears in a number of religious teachings,” he said. “The Sufis, which is a mystical offshoot of Islam, uses the word HU and we recognize that in some of the root words of ancient Hebrew, Jewish teachings … HU is in the center of that as well.”
Community chants are short, typically less than 45 minutes, and involve only a few components. They begin with the facilitator introducing the principles behind the HU and sharing a story of how chanting HU has impacted his or her life. Next is 20 minutes of singing. 
“We sing the HU, and it’s just a long drawn out ‘huuu,’” Levesque said. “The intent is to tap into an experience, this love of God, and it’s sort of very much a two-way street. I’ll end the session by saying ‘May the blessing be.’”
When it comes to doing the HU, there are very few requirements. Levesque said all one has to do is get “a sense or feeling of love” to be in the right mindset to sing. How you get to that sense of love can be anything from thinking of a loved one to picturing a sunset.
Karen Mitchell has sung the HU as part of her Eckankar practice for a number of years but was excited to try something different with the community chants. 
“I was certainly drawn to the wider circle of more voices,” Mitchell said in a phone interview. “I felt [that] the energy there is really wonderfully uplifting, and the practice as a whole centers me and makes me stronger.” 
Mitchell thinks that anyone who wants to feel connected to the community or God in a non-judgmental setting should try a community chant. 
“No one’s checking what religion are you from or what do you believe or don’t you believe,” she said. “The underlying thrust is this is about recognizing and celebrating your love for life, your love for God.”
A main theme of singing HU is to uplift people and share it for others to use as they may. 
“I certainly do go to connect with other people. … I feel like [when we] come together and sing this ancient holy word, we create a vortex of upliftment,” Mitchell said. “We’re all connected. What happens to one happens to all.” 
As seen in the December 18, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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