Singing Alive

When I rise

Let me rise
Like a bird

When I fall
Let me fall
Like a leaf
Without regret

While I live
Let me live
Like a river
Flowing free

When I pass on
To the next place
My love will be

When theres sorrow in my heart
may it be transformed
into the rays of sun
that shine after the storm

And when theres laughter in my spirit
set it free
let it rise
like a bird


  1. Carrie Firestone

    Hello – I came across this song on here a few years ago and love singing it. Are you the original writer of this song, or do you know who it? Thank you.

    • Callista

      This song, as far as I know, is sung in the Wake Up movement – a group of young mediators in the tradition of thich nhat hanh. That’s where I first heard it. But I don’t know the author. Beautiful indeed, and when you sing, may you sing, like an angel, heavenly! ✨

  2. Pat Kerr

    This begins from a poem by Wendell Berry
    When I rise up
    let me rise up joyful
    like a bird

    When I fall
    let me fall without regret
    like a leaf

    Wendell Berry

  3. Lorraine Poole

    The composer is Wendy Tuck. Lyrics are partly from a poem by Wendell Berry. First published in From A Basket of Plums Songbook: Music in the Tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh (2009, 2013) with permission of Parallax Press,

  4. mt xen

    HI Songleading Friends!
    Last weekend I was at the Great River folk festival and someone walked up to me with a story. She’s someone with whom I’d sung before, including ‘When I Rise,’ the Wendell Berry-inspired call-and-response song that so many people love to sing. She said that a dear old friend had reached out to her, someone named WENDY TUCK, who had heard that song on a radio show and was shocked because she had made the tune, back in 1975, and never knew until a few weeks ago that it had flown around and stuck! She only made the first part: When I rise let me rise, like a bird from a tree, when I fall let me fall like a leaf gracefully, with out regret.’ (W. Berry). All of the other verses have shown up from who knows where over the years. She is thrilled that people are singing it. So there, we can add that to our attributions lists! ~ Liz Rog

  5. Michael Ismerio

    This is what Wendy Tuck has to say about the tune: “I made up this tune to Wendell Berry’s poem in Spencer WV in 1974. I was part of an intentional community dedicated to nonviolent direct action and we had spiritual “services” every Sunday, with Lots of innovation from many social justice and spiritual pacifist, environmental traditions. I only used the first 2 verses about the bird and leaf, and it was taught to the Federation of Ohio River Co-ops in 1975 or 1976, by Robin Wilson. He was part of The Growing Tree, a member of FORC. I wonder how or if it traveled from here in WV to …. where… to Plum Village? That’s the amazing way of folk tunes for sure. Do you know any more about where the tune came from? Wendy Tuck, Parkersburg WV”

    • Jordan

      Where did this quote come from? Do you have a source?

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