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WUMC Celebrates Black History

In honor and recognition of Black History Month, the music department of Waynedale United Methodist Church presented a series of spirituals beginning with an arrangement of “Ezekial Saw the Wheel,” sung by Chancel Choir. This piece was representative of the many spirituals sung by slaves to tell Bible stories to each other. Many spirituals were constructed in the “call and response” style. A leader, perhaps assigned to the position in the field, would sing a statement and the other workers would respond with an answer. Call: Ezekiel saw the wheel. Response: Way up in the middle of the air. Call: A wheel in a wheel. Response: Way in the middle of the air. This Sunday an insert in the bulletin described this style and gave a brief history of the slave trade in the United States.

The second week, Chancel Choir presented a collection of spirituals with a narration connecting the choices. The songs were compiled, and narration written by Jeanette Walsh, Director of Christian Arts at the church. The medley included such well-known spirituals as “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child,” “Climbing Up the Mountain, Children,” and several others. Each group of pieces illustrated a particular aspect of the life of the enslaved people: the desire for freedom, the desire for property ownership, the loss of family members, and the general misery in which they were forced to live. A series of slides accompanied the music, providing visual impact to the lyrics.

On the third Sunday, the emphasis was on more recent history, as the choir sang the spiritual “Oh Freedom,” a spiritual which became one of the theme songs during the Civil Rights Movement of the late 50’s and early 60’s. A timeline of the period was included in the bulletin, helping to put the era in perspective for the congregation.

On the final Sunday, the bell choir presented an arrangement of “Trampin,” a spiritual describing the life of the Christian, “I’m trampin’, trampin’, tryin’ to make Heaven my home.” A bulletin insert entitled “Genius Knows No Color Lines” described the life and segregation struggles of the great Marian Anderson, who sang on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial because the auditorium for the Daughters of the American Revolution prevented any non-white from performing.

During the entire series, emphasis was placed on the struggle that was and is still being experienced by the black community. The hope is that the music and the information will not only honor Black History Month but will also encourage action to correct the societal ills that prolong racism.

The Waynedale News Staff
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Jeanette Walsh

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