This month we acknowledge and celebrate important people, events, and culture in the history of the African diaspora. The official commemoration of February as Black History Month—or African-American History Month—was initially proposed in 1969, though it wasn't nationally acknowledged until 1976 by the proclamation of President Gerald Ford at the United States Bicentennial. Before that time, "Negro History Week" was created in 1926 by historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History as the second week of February due to the birthdates of President Abraham Lincoln (2/12) and famed African-American abolitionist, orator, and author Frederick Douglas (2/14).
At Emmanuel, we strive to deeply value and honor the cultural, racial, and ethnic diversity in our congregation, community, and world, doing our best to be a Christian example of equality, diversity, and empowerment for all peoples.
One small way that we express those aspirations is through our music. hrouhgout the month of February, there will be powerful examples of hymns and anthems from the rich spiritual and/or Gospel music traditions, as well as works by African-American composers.
Even more prominently, we will be presenting "God's Trombones,” a service of readings and spirituals, on Sunday, February 25, 2018, in place of our regular 10:30 a.m. service. Join us for this dramatic reading of James Weldon Johnson’s “God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse.” This historic work, written in 1927, is a collection of poems patterned after traditional African-American religious oratory. Titles include: “Listen Lord — A Prayer;” “The Creation;” “The Prodigal Son;” “Go Down, Death;” and others. Between each reading, the Emmanuel choir will sing arrangements of spirituals known to Johnson, including: “There Is a Balm in Gilead;” “Any How;” and “Great Gettin’ Up Mornin.” The service will conclude with everyone singing the rousing hymn “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which was written by Johnson himself. There is no charge for this event and, again, it will take the place of Emmanuel’s regular Sunday 10:30 a.m. service. (There will be no Eucharist at this service, but it will be available, as ever, at 8:30 a.m. in Eccleston Chapel.) If you have any questions about this special service or our other musical celebrations of Black History Month, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.