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african american spirituals
Presbyterian Publishing Corporation announced Wednesday that it will donate royalties from sales of the Glory to God hymnal to organizations involved in reparative justice for every African American spiritual and Indigenous Peoples’ song in the book. This is being done to honor the creators of these songs, who, unlike other hymn writers in the book, were never able to benefit from their creations.
A Boston news station recently shared a story about a Massachusetts church that came up with a unique reparation idea to undo the injustices to those men and women who authored the great African American spirituals in many a hymn book. Each time the choir sings such a spiritual, the church will pay a royalty. It is common practice for churches to pay royalties to publishers for the use of hymns, but according to the news report, Susan DeSelms, minister of music of the United Parish in Brookline, which came up with the idea, “the enslaved people who created this music were never rewarded for their art.”
A Massachusetts church is paying ‘royalties’ to a nonprofit youth music program each time their choir sings a spiritual.
Editor’s note: Recently, the Presbyterian Association of Musicians connected with 2021 Worship & Music Conference Adult Choral Director
G. Phillip Shoultz, III for an exclusive interview. PAM discussed his reflections on the June conference, the impact of singing spirituals, our shared heritage in Christ and the future of music in worship.