Franciscan Free Song: Excerpts From A Continual Conversation With A Silent Man by Still on the Hill

by Sister Julie Ann on June 1, 2014

Aware that the language of poetry and spirituality find meaning in the depth of relationships, Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity offer ‘Excerpts From A Continual Conversation With A Silent Man’ by Still on the Hill this June as a free music download. St. Francis found peace in poetry. (Ever remember hearing about the Canticle of the Creatures?) Our Assisi troubadour saint would totally enjoy this musicial focus on poet Wallace Stevens.

The Never Ending Conversation by Still On the Hill

The ‘Continual Conversations with a Silent Man’ is part of a collection of well known poems that I set to music in a collection I call ‘The Never Ending Conversation’.  I was drawn to the Wallace Stevens poem, ‘Continual Conversations with a Silent Man’ for its sheer beauty and the powerful images that it conjures in my mind.  For me, it is a meditation of sorts.  Like ocean waves lapping on the shore year after year for thousands of years, oblivious to the goings on of man kind.  Somehow, it calms my mind to think of this.  Actually, I imagine that you will see it very differently through your own lens.  That is what I hope for.

-Kelly Mulhollan

How does this song move your heart? What are some of your never-ending conversations on things? We’d like to hear from you.

About Still on the Hill

Still on the Hill is the folk duo comprised of my wife Donna, and myself.  Most of our music is actually of a very different sort.  We write ‘storysongs’ of the Ozark mountains (where we live and where I am from). The Never Ending Conversation (the CD with the Wallace Stevens poem) is a solo CD I produced of a very different sort.  It combines my love of folk music and classical music along with poetry.  It was my attempt to write a collection or ‘art songs’ as they call it in the classical world.  I saw no particular reason why a folk singer could not pursue musical setting for classic poetry in the same way composers such as Brahms, Schubert, and Ives had done.

-Kelly Mulhollan


The old brown hen and the old blue sky,

Between the two we live and we die—we live and we dieStill On the Hill

Broken cartwheel on the hill.

Broken cartwheel on the hill

As if, in the presence of the sea,

We dried our nets and mended all our sails, all of our sails

talked of never-ending things, talked of never-ending things.

And the wheel that broke as the cart went by.

It is not a voice that is under the eaves. It is underneath the eaves

It is not speech, the sound we hear, the sound we hear

As if, in the presence of the sea,

We dried our nets and mended all our sails, all of our sails

talked of never-ending things, talked of never-ending things.



40 thoughts on “Franciscan Free Song: Excerpts From A Continual Conversation With A Silent Man by Still on the Hill”

  1. Sister Nancy says:

    The song-poem extends and enhances the
    experience of hearing and listening to the Wallace Stevens poem, “Continual
    Conversation with a Silent Man”. The
    imagery, repetition, and allusion of the poem are stretched and deepened by the
    musical setting. The string instruments and the harmonica echo the yearning of
    the lyrics, especially the four sets of repeated phrases. The arts are said to be the threshold to the
    spiritual, and in this combination of poetry and music one is invited to pray in a significant and novel way. How ironic that Stevens was an insurance man
    by profession yet was so invested and attuned to the eternal dimensions of
    human existence. It is a blessing that Still on the Hill have brought this poem
    to us in song

  2. Sister Julie Ann says:

    Thanks for taking the time to share your ponderings. Continual, endless conversations would seem to focus on people and things that we seek to be happy. Today’s feast of the Ascension lifts us to consider our primary relationships and returning to the practice of spending time with them (especially our Father in heaven and Jesus who is present with us always through the Holy Spirit.)

  3. Maggie says:

    Loved the instrumental music behind the lyrics in this poem, great for meditation or contemplation. I also liked how it felt like a conversation, versus something I was just listening to. I felt like I had an active part in the music.

  4. AlondraT says:

    This song mad me realize that you’re not alone. God is ALWAYS with you.

  5. Katie says:

    This song really calmed me down and helped me with my life situation

  6. Allie says:

    this song touches my heart because it is the kind of song that talk about something that I personally think about sometimes. It also reminds me of my young years and how much I miss being that age.

  7. Bob_JoOrt says:

    I thought that the song revealed a lot of peoples’ point of view on life. The harmony set the tone for the whole feeling that’s received when you listen to it.

  8. Fred says:

    We are all sinners, it injures us and we need to learn how to stop. We should go to church and learn about Jesus Christ and his mission to help us. It is a story of our life.

  9. Ciara says:

    This song is talking about praying but of course no one answers back when you pray so therefore you are talking to a silent man because god and Jesus are men

  10. Sydney says:

    This is a very true song. I specifically love the lyric talked of never-ending things, because I think it means that you should never end or stop talking/praying to God. When I get home I am definitely going to show my mom this video! I really enjoyed the song ! 🙂

  11. LP says:

    This song was very heart touching. I enjoyed the song a lot. The song made me felt like I was at the water watching the waves coming up. This song made me think about my childhood. I love my childhood.. and I always wish I could go back to my childhood but God wants everyone to move forward and enjoy new things or experiment in life.

  12. maria says:

    We live and we die but will still always be some place that we made a difference in someone’s life.

  13. Elizabeth Bowers says:

    I loved this calm, relaxing, and peaceful piece of music. It really explains how God’s music can be personally amazing. It can really touch your spirit as it did mine. This was an amazing song.

  14. Fabi says:

    The thoughts that came to me as I listened to the song were that the person who wrote it was going through a very rough time. The song made me feel very relaxed and just in a very peaceful place.

  15. helen garcia says:

    it was a beautiful song <3

  16. SH says:

    some thoughts that came to me were that as our lives change we will have hard days but we will also have the ability to have that fixed by going to Christ and talking to him for some time.

  17. Morgan says:

    The thoughts that came to me while listening to the song were a quiet tone, and deep meaning. What the songs says about my life is that there will be an end to everything but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t live your life to the fullest. God uses music to find my inner happiness. Life can be hard but music transports me into a new world whether its listening to music, singing music, or playing music on flute, piano, or guitar.

  18. Olivia says:

    The song makes me feel a little bit sad, like you have to climb a big mountain. The song also kind of tells me that my life is never ending but it can be broken down. We may die but our soul goes to heaven, most of the time.

  19. Sally says:

    I felt this peaceful song made me relax and let my mind free. This showed me that God’s music can truly help someone help through a struggle or just needs to get back on the right path.

  20. LL says:

    We never do anything perfectly, but when we mess up we have to ask God to forgive us. We also have to ask the person who we did something wrong to for forgiveness. After we have been forgiven God wants us to move on and learn from our mistakes. God will forgive you no matter what because he loves you.

  21. Destiny says:

    While listening to this song, I realized that we all make mistakes and god is always with you. Its apart of Gods plan to have a strong connection with him.

  22. V.R. says:

    The sad tune reminds me of the misery we go through when we sin. This song reiterates
    “never-ending things ” which I connected to sinning. It reminds me of the little time we have on earth and that it shouldn’t be wasted. Nevertheless, we must taking time to love & follow God’s commandments. God always knows best for we, his children.

  23. Sarah says:

    It is a very peaceful and calming song. I think this song is about not being so caught up in the world. Also appreciating nature and the beauty of life and not getting so caught up in vanity. I do believe God works through many vessels and one of those is music.

  24. Elizabeth Bowers says:

    I felt this love ,hope , faith , and peace inside myself , it was a great song for me and the others.

  25. AB says:

    The thoughts that come to me when I listen to the song is that life and fails never end and tha t you have to live through it. This song said something to me about my life was that there are hard times in your life that you have to live through to get to where you want to be. God uses music to touch my heart by just the words in the song finds a place in your heart.

  26. Denise says:

    While I was listening to this song, I thought that even though we go though tough times, we can always get though them with the help of God. Also that God would always be there to forgive us no matter what we do.

  27. MRR says:

    This song can really speak for itself. The song made me feel free and alive again. It had a relaxed tone and great for meditations.

  28. AJG says:

    God uses music to touch my heart because God knows my heart. When I am in a time of doubt, God will put a song in my path. When I listen to the song I always know that God put it there for a reason.

  29. MJM says:

    The song told me that God is always there for me especially when I go through tough times.

  30. EB says:

    I think this song is says how life continues to go on even though things get old and start to wear and break.

  31. Destiny says:

    the song was amazinbg

  32. Celina says:

    I thought the song meant that people make mistakes and that we do go through hard times, but there is always something good that comes out of it.

  33. CW says:

    This song talks about things that break and change. It reminds me that although the world is changing and “passing away”, God is always there and never changes. Even though there are events in one’s life that can be hard, God is always there; He is a “never-ending thing” that people talk about when life is challenging or hard.

  34. CB says:

    When we feel broken or used God mends us like a sailor mends his sail. The path God has for us never ends even when we feel like we are at the end of use.

  35. maria t says:

    I think that it sad song in the starting when people are making a sad song it has a great way of making people understanding

  36. Katelynn Valenzuela says:

    when you hear this song it has a little saying, ‘Throw net into the sea…’ go out into the world and go see/talk/hear about the Lord. ‘The sea is….’ the Lord is the sea and he is out there, waiting for you to learn about him.

  37. Monserrat says:

    This song makes me feel as if I were in a dark room, with no lights or anything but still being able to feel well. This song is sort of the example of a light starting to light up in the dark room and helping you out to be able to see again. This song is a song that when you are having a bad time, it almost feel as if it is reliving you from your sins and all the pain you have inside of you.

  38. CL says:

    To me, this song means that even though we might go through tough times if we pray and ask God for help he will get us through those times and into a better time. The song said ”We talked about never-ending things” and to me that means God’s unconditional love for each and every one of us. That is how the song speaks to me

  39. Kiara says:

    My interpretation of this song is that we are the items that break in the song, but then God mends us like He mended the sails on the ship. It says that we will be born and made by God, He will mend us while we live, and then we will someday die, but God will be there for us at the end of our lives also. God is always with us, no matter where we are and what we are going through. Just remember that He will always help you and be by your side, and that will help you get through your lives in peace and joy.

  40. Sister Julie Ann says:

    How wonderful to see all this activity on this song! Thanks so much. Lately, I learned that Wallace Stevens became Catholic near the end of his life when he was facing his own death. He was a man whose search ended with a hope in the resurrection! May our lives mirror this truth!

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