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WITF Music: The Wild Hymns

Musicians and marriage, the hardiness of the York art scene and the mysterious origins of melodies.

  • Joe Ulrich
Megan Woodland Donley Hewitt of the The Wild Hymns performs on WITF Music on Jan. 18, 2024. Jeremy Long - WITF

Megan Woodland Donley Hewitt of the The Wild Hymns performs on WITF Music on Jan. 18, 2024. Jeremy Long - WITF

The Wild Hymns is a York band that started in 2014 by Megan Woodland Hewitt. Jeff Hewitt, her husband and a guitarist, soon began collaborating with her and it ultimately expanded into a full band. They stopped by WITF’s studio to play some of their songs and WITF Music’s Joe Ulrich spoke with Megan about playing in a band with a spouse and how songwriting can be a bit mysterious.

Joe Ulrich: It’s one thing to be in a relationship with someone and be connected with them in just a relationship way. But then as, musicians as well. Does that kind of enhance or enrich a relationship?

Megan Woodland: Sure. I definitely feel that way. But it can be intense. We’re both also Scorpios. Scorpio gets a bad rap as the most intense and moody and sometimes dark, astrological sign. We can be like stinging each other sometimes and it can be intense, but also definitely a lot of passion. And for us, music is so much a part of our spirituality and what gives us life.

And Jeff has always been a big supporter. Back in 2013, he was really encouraging me to record these songs and just helping me bring them to life and add his musicality to it.

Joe Ulrich: So tell me about the songs that you did today.

Megan Woodland: It’s interesting because it ties into that last question about couples and music. The first one we did is called “You Should Love Her.” And it’s a song from our most recent album which is called Eternal Return. It is really about devotion to your beloved, which could be any context, even  a friend.

I always have a hard time with the word “should”. It’s not a word I like to use that often because I don’t really believe in shoulds. But that’s why I chose it. There was a little bit of reprimand, even to myself, and a call to this idea of just loving each other better.

It’s also a song to to Mother Earth, too, because I feel like obviously we’re facing this really intense climate crisis.  So to me, it’s just about a call for a taking better care of the earth and each other.


“Drop Your Burden” is really just a little lullaby to myself to calm me down. I was going through a stressful time and it’s just about letting that go. And there’s the collective element: I’m singing to strangers, I’m singing to my sister, I’m singing to everybody. So it’s just about trusting the process, dropping our sorrow, letting ourselves live.

Joe Ulrich: Is there an overarching theme in your music?

Megan Woodland: I think so. It’s really cool because my dad, he is always asking me to write down all of the lyrics for him. He actually pointed out to me that there’s this theme of impermanence at times, like the comings and goings of things.

A lot of times through my music, I’m expressing moving through my own darkness back to light. So that’s definitely one common theme. And I do tend to write this kind of like broad … it’s almost like the songs to the collective.

Joe Ulrich:  Are there times when you’re writing something and you’re like, where did that come from?

Megan Woodland: It’s almost always that way for me.

Joe Ulrich: And what do you attribute that to?

Megan Woodland: It’s not something I can really explain. It’s a very cosmic thing for me. A lot of times for me, it often starts with the melody and then the lyrics will just come in. And the more that I can get quiet and just allow it, it just drops in.

Usually most of my songs I write in five minutes. I’m wanting to explore with more going back and editing and deepening a bit more. But for me, usually the most joyful way to do it is, it just comes through and moves through me.

I think of them as like little gifts from the universe. And I don’t even necessarily feel super attached to them or like they’re mine. They just come through and I happen to be the one who has my little antenna up and channels them.

Joe Ulrich: I think a lot about free will these days and whether it exists.

Megan Woodland: It’s interesting you say that too, because Eternal Return, that’s the name of our last album and that’s this concept from Nietzsche, the philosopher. It’s basically this notion that everything happens in repeating cycles over and over forever, which is terrifying in some ways, but also beautiful. Because if anything that you’ve really loved, if you know it’s going to happen again …

I have no idea. I like toying with these different concepts or trying them on and getting inspired by them. But I don’t know if I believe everything is just predestined per se, but I definitely believe in karma and cause and effect and that everything has led up to us being here now.

I like to be in a lot of “I don’t know” spaces. I think that’s the best place to be.

Joe Ulrich: Does Jeff work on lyrics at all with you or is that entirely you?

Megan Woodland: He does a bit. Mostly his contribution is more musical. Jeff’s such an amazing, prolific musician. A lot of times he’ll just be chilling downstairs and I’ll hear him playing for like hours. And I’ll hear like a melody he’s playing and that will inspire a song.

I actually wrote a song recently and I shared it with him. And it was pretty personal, just like our journey as a couple. And he was a little bit like, “Can we share that?” It can feel really vulnerable. But a lot of times he and I don’t talk about it too much. We just like dive into the music. That’s where we like meet.

Joe Ulrich: Tell me about the community of artists and musicians in the York area or just Central Pennsylvania in general.

Megan Woodland: Some of what makes it special is because there aren’t so many of us. It’s not like we live in some big city where there’s museums everywhere and so much to do. There’s not jazz happening on every corner. So there’s almost this hardiness and this DIY thing going on.

Shout out to Spencer [McCreary, of the band Public Disco Porch]. Beautiful human and artist and he’s opened me up to a whole other world of other artists and musicians.

One of my very best friends, her name is Tifani Truelove and she’s in Wrightsville. She’s an artist and I call her an art witch and an oracle. She bridges a lot of the spirituality and art.

I feel like there’s something about the resiliency and the rising above the lack of art or support for the arts in the area.

Joe Ulrich: When [Spencer] and I were talking, we were talking about the sort of culture, the truly unique culture that you find in the small areas.

Megan Woodland: I see it a lot. I always think of this area this like a magic fairyland, Pennsylvania. With the river and the woodlands. There’s definitely a special little energy around here.



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