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Singing begins with breath. With those words, the Rev. Dr. David Gambrell began his Routley lectures for the week.
Whenever the Rev. Carlton Johnson talks about hymns from the heart of the Black church, he feels a responsibility to carry on the tradition of his ancestors. For their hymns are, as W.E.B. Du Bois observed, “the most original and beautiful expression of human life and longing born on American soil.”
One of the high points so far in my ministry within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has been participation in the development of “Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal.” Although I came on board near the end of the hymn selection process, I had the honor of being involved in the preparation and introduction of this major resource of congregational song for the church.
Presbyterian churches are collaborating with other congregations, pooling their resources to produce exciting online worship services.
Reviving Negro Spiritual music in its choir, the American Spiritual Ensemble performs to enthusiastic churches and audiences.
In the fall of 2018, youth at Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center (BAJCC) in Chesterfield County, Virginia, asked to start a gospel choir. The request reached the Rev. Lauren Ramseur and the Rev. Ashley Diaz Mejias who, along with friends, collaborated to support the initiative. Ramseur and Mejias soon discovered that they were “doing church” — gathering twice a month at the correctional center for a community of worship. The group named themselves the Voices of Jubilee.
Beth Mueller got a note from a man who saw the virtual choir of international peacemakers video she created for the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program and had a question.
“He wanted to know how we got all those people from around the world to sing at the same time on Zoom,” Mueller said, laughing.
Throughout these times of quarantine, I have found myself singing more — children’s English and Spanish songs with our 2-year-old son, Leandro. These are songs I remember from high school and university choir, hymns, my mom’s songs or just humming random tunes. If I’m honest, my singing is not always an expression of joy. As I write this, we are on Day 71 (May 25) of strict quarantine in Peru, and we are permitted to leave our home only for groceries, bank transactions and medical needs. Our curfew, complete Sunday lockdown and closed international borders also are still in effect.
Christian love requires an active response to meet the needs of others without compromising your personal relationship with God.
Instead of singing at holiday worship, why not experiment with doing different postures or introducing a beloved holiday smell.