the story of “The Silver Rain”

August 18, 2021
Short Story
“The Silver Rain”, words by Alice Henderson, music by Marianne Zimmerman. I wrote an a cappella SATB harmonization of this after Mary Alice and I learned it from Harry and Edith Barron who had learned it while living in the Bruderhof Community.


The Bruderhof was a pacifist spiritual community founded in Germany in 1920. The rise of the Nazis forced the Bruderhof community to flee Germany to the Cotswolds of England where they were joined by English concientious objectors. By 1936 there were over 350 members of the Bruderhof, speaking and singing in German and English.  This is when our English friends Harry and Edith Barron joined the Bruderhof.

With the war with Germany looming, the English government threatened to conscript the English men and intern the Germans, so the Bruderhof Community boarded a ship that took a zig zagging route across the Atlantic to avoid German U Boats. They landed in South America and settled in Paraguay, the only country they could find that could tolerate a pacifist community of mixed nationalities.
In Paraguay the members of the Bruderhof Community worked communally, planting their crops, building their own schools and hospitals, and singing their songs.  Harry and Edith birthed their four children in the Paraguay Bruderhof Community.   As adults all four of their children left the Bruderhof, and one daughter, Janet Barron, moved to Brattleboro Vermont where she met and married Jay Bailey and they started their Fairwinds (organic) Farm, which is still thriving today in Brattleboro.  Harry and Edith eventually left the Bruderhof as well and moved to Brattleboro to be close to Janet and her family.  Mary Alice and I met Harry and Edith in the early 1980s where, at an informal singing party, they taught us one of their favorite songs from their Bruderhof repertoire; “The Silver Rain”.
Somehow, through all of these adventures, Harry and Edith Barron remained quite wonderfully English, showing us with pride their neat, beautiful English gardens of flowers and vegetables, and often inviting us over for a proper and delightful English tea.
Mary Alice sang “Silver Rain” on our 1993 album “I’ll Never Forget”:
I composed an a cappella harmonization of “Silver Rain” for the Guilford Community Church Choir around 2000.  About ten years later, at the request of our pastor Lise Sparrow I wrote a 2nd verse for a Guilford Community Church Earth Day service.  I did a new recording of the song last year with my “Covid Choir”, made up of some of my favorite singers who sing remotely from their homes in the US and UK:
The Silver Rain
1st verse by Alice Henderson
2nd verse by Peter Amidon
The silver rain, the shining sun,
And fields where scarlet poppies run,
And all the ripples of the wheat
Are in the bread that I do eat.
For when I sit at every meal and say a grace,
I always feel that I am eating rain and sun,
And fields where scarlet poppies run.
The fields below, the skies above
Enfold us in God’s arms of love
The clouds of mist, the endless sea,
Become a part of you and me.
The precious atmosphere that girths
The narrow vault twixt heav’n and earth;
For this we offer prayers and laud:
The life sustaining breath of God.
Peter Amidon