St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church


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Weaving Black History Month and Spirituals

Posted by John-Luke Addison on

February’s monthly Choral Evensong service will focus on the musical tradition of African-American Spirituals, and the liturgical elements will reflect an emphasis on celebrating the heritage of Black history and its importance in our society. February is Black History Month in the United States, and it seemed appropriate to use this month’s Evensong offering to honor this time and shed light on issues of social justice and civil rights. Music will include modern and traditional arrangements of ‘Let Us Break Bread Together’, ‘Steal Away’, ‘Deep River’, ‘My Lord, What A Morning’, and many more.

Upon hearing Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail recently in church, one could still feel the resonance of these words in our current society. The inequities Dr. King described are ones we should continue to bring to the forefront of our attention, and help our communities work to resolve these issues of racism, discrimination, and bigotry. The undertones of African-American Spirituals reflect yearnings for mercy, equality, and justice, and these will serve to complement the elements reflected in the liturgy and prayers.

One of the Collects for February’s Evensong reads as follows: “Loving God, Bless us as we gather and pray in your name. May we be your hands, heart, feet, and Word in a world so torn apart by hate, war, greed, and divisions. Give us grace to do your will in all that we undertake. We pray for the Motherland, we pray for people in the diaspora, we pray for those who suffer discrimination, because of race, sexual orientation, creed or class. Make us children of your love, justice, and peace. Holy Spirit of God, sometimes we feel like motherless children. Help us never to forget the gift of music, poetry, song, and dance. May we praise your name in all that we do. Amen.”

February’s Choral Evensong service takes place on February 10 at 4 p.m.