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Music in Worship Day: The Legacy of African American Spirituals for Congregational Song
- Course Dates: Thu 2 April 2020, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
This course will explore theology and spirituality of African American Spirituals against their cultural and political backgrounds and assess their legacy for church music today.
The Spirituals emerged from a cauldron of conflict, deep pain and suffering. They were, for enslaved African Americans, a source of affirmation, protest and liberation. So too, congregational song has, from its beginnings, been mired in controversy and conflict. Church authorities have regarded it with suspicion because singing affirms and emboldens the people in the pew and provides them with a means of articulating their faith. The praise of God through the Spirituals and congregational song becomes a shout of liberation and of protest as well as a well of support and affirmation.
This day will show that hymns and congregational song, including the Spirituals, develop and relate to their cultural, political and ecclesial contexts in order to deliver their theological and spiritual message. Our exploration of the Spirituals will remind us of the radical nature of congregational song and will challenge us to consider whether the hymns and congregational songs being sung today have become tamed and domesticated and lost their radical edge. It will also ask where are the songs which are sung both inside and outside the Church.
This day is designed for all who value the place of congregational song in worship. It will involve singing and listening to congregational song and Spirituals. Participants are encouraged to bring an example of a song or hymn or Spiritual that has spoken to them at times of struggle or suffering.