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Music: Sacred Folk

The MUSIC section is subdivided by category; I cross list resources where categories overlap:

1. Lesson Plans and Teacher's Guides

2. Web Sites: Grants, online exhibits, sources for recorded music.

3. Books: Surveys and hymnals

4. CDs & Tapes: Anthologies to provide historical perspective, resources for singing with students.

6. Videos

7. "How To" Instructional CDs and Video

8. Sheet Music: GIA Publications African American Church Series: Books, Hymnals, CDs, Digital Sheet Music and more!

Lesson Plans & Teacher's Guides

Jubilee Singers: Sacrifice and Glory
PBS Video
Middle & High School, Does not require student internet access
Site provides a Teacher's Guide for the video

"In the chaotic decade following the Civil War, a group of young ex-slaves in Nashville, Tennessee, set out on a mission to save their financially troubled school by giving concerts. Traveling first through cities in the North, then on to venues across Europe, the Jubilee Singers introduced audiences to the power of spirituals, the religious anthems of slavery."

Stylistic Aspects of Spiritual Singing
U.S. Army Field Band
High School, Does not require student internet access

Accompanies the CD In My Dream A Celebration of African-American Music, free upon request to educational institutions, libraries and music educators.

Go Down, Moses
Educator's Reference Desk
Elementary - Middle School Does not require student internet access

"Students will sing an arrangement of Go Down, Moses and will play instruments to accompany their singing. In the course of preparing and performing the song, they will learn about important African Americans and their contributions to society. "

Go Tell It On the Mountain
Educator's Reference Desk
Elementary - Does not require student internet access

"An arrangement of two traditional Spirituals with accompaniment playable by elementary instrumental music students."



Highly Recommended Sweet Chariot: the story of the spirituals

This multimedia website is supported by the Center for Teaching & Learning at the University of Denver. It outlines various cultural and historical influences of the spirituals over many time periods, and includes not only music samples but interviews conducted with performing artists, community workers and composers around the country who have shared The Spirituals Project’s mission of keeping the spirituals tradition alive in the twenty-first century.

Black Gospel Music Restoration Project At Baylor University

You can access music, interviews and more at this ever-growing website.

"The purpose of this project is to identify, acquire, preserve, record and catalogue the most at-risk music from the black gospel music tradition. This collection will primarily contain 78s, 45s, LPs, and the various tape formats issued in the United States and abroad between the 1940s and the 1980s. Additionally, any ephemera that may be of use to scholars – including PR photos and press packets, taped interviews, informal photographs, tour books and programs, newspaper and magazine clippings, and sheet music – will also be acquired as it becomes available. The ultimate goal is to have a copy of every song released by every black gospel artist or group during that time period."

Follow the Drinking Gourd

History and translation for the slave song, "Follow the Drinking Gourd."

The Negro Spiritual

The mission of the Negro Spiritual is to preserve, celebrate, and enhance the presence of Negro Spirituals in our lives and culture, to study the origins and history of the Negro Spiritual and, to recognize composers, singers, musicians, and others who contribute to the lasting life of Negro Spirituals. This site has their quarterly newsletter and information about their journal and recordings.

Document Records

This site is more than just the world's largest (800 titles) catalogue for Vintage Blues, Gospel, Spirituals, Jazz and Country Music, with a little bit of World Music and Soul thrown in. It's also one of the biggest blues (and related music) projects around, with articles, search facilities and more.

Archives of African American Music

"Established in 1991, the Archives of African American Music and Culture (AAAMC) is a repository of materials covering musical idioms and cultural expressions from the post-World War II era. The AAAMC supports the research of scholars, students, and the general public from around the world by providing access to oral histories, photographs, musical and print manuscripts, audio and video recordings, and educational broadcast programs, among other holdings."

Center for Black Music Research

"The CBMR is devoted to research, preservation, and dissemination of information about the history of black music on a global scale." It includes a musician's database and information about research fellowships, events and more.


Books and Hymnals

Southern, Eileen. The Music of Black Americans: A History, 3rd edition. New York: W.W. North, 1997. Read More at (High School - Adult)

First written in 1971 and now in it's 3rd edition, this is a wonderful, readable textbook on all aspects of African American musi

Abbington, James ed. Readings in African American Church Music and Worship. GIA Publications, 2002. Order at

This collection is required reading for anyone interested in the development and current status of music in the African American church. In one volume, it presents forty chapters, essays, articles and previously unpublished papers on music and worship, representing some of the greatest writings, musical comment and discourse, from W.E.B. DuBois in 1903 ("Of the Faith of our Fathers," from the SOULS OF BLACK FOLK) to Obery M. Hendricks Jr's "I Am the Holy Dope Dealer: The Problem with Gospel Music Today" written in 2000. It's divided into 7 major categories: Historical Perspectives, Surveys of Hymnals and Hymnody, Liturgical Hymnody, Worship, Composers, the Organ, and Contemporary Perspectives. A wonderful college text or resource book!

When the Church Becomes Your Party. Deborah Smith Pollard. Wayne State University Press, 2008. Read more and Order at

From its birth, gospel music has occupied a unique realm straddling the sacred and the secular. While it is God's word expressed in song, no other genre of sacred music reaches out to - and is enjoyed by - millions of people who may not even be believers. Perhaps it is because gospel music has been inextricably tied to media since the early days of radio, since both were born at about the same time. It can be an uneasy realm in which to dwell. Just as early 20th Century church goers heard the "devil's music" in the blues influenced works of Thomas A. Dorsey, many today are disconcerted by the concept of "Holy Hip Hop" and rapping preachers.

Pollard covers a lot of ground in under 200 pages, including among other things a history of gospel music, the influence and activism of female gospel announcers (who, to my surprise, have been around since the 1940's), the gospel musical stage play, the rise of praise and worship music, debates concerning what rightly belongs to Caesar and what belongs to God, and emerging trends like those rapping preachers.

The book is so readable and fascinating is probably due the background of author Deborah Smith Pollard. As an associate professor of English literature and humanities, she brings the requisite academic credentials. But she's not a scholar looking in from the outside; she also has a deep personal knowledge of the subject as a long time gospel announcer, church goer, choir member, concert producer and fan.

Lovell, John. Black Song: The Forge and the Flame; the story of how the Afro-American Spiritual was hammered out. New York: MacMillan, 1972. Out of print, but used copies available at (High School)

The most comprehensive listing and classification of slave songs.

Cooper, Michael L. Slave Spirituals and the Jubilee Singers. New York: Clarion, 2001. Read more at (Era 6) (Middle School)

Traces the development of spirituals, and how the Jubilee Singers made them known world-wide. Includes many archival prints and photographs, extensive annotated source notes and the words and music to seven of the spirituals.

Jones, Arthur C. Wade in the Water: The Wisdom of the Spirituals. New York: Orbis Books, 1993. (High School - Adult) Read More at

Dr. Jones is both a practicing psychologist and a musician who brings a Jungian interpretation to the spirituals as archetypes with transformative value for all of us today. This book got me thinking about the spirituals in a new light!

New! Lead Me, Guide Me Second Edition. GIA Publications Inc. 2012 GIA Publications Inc.

Eight years in the making, this second edition of GIA's African American hymnal is an expanded and enhanced version of its predecessor. It contains the full breadth of African American church music that is suitable for Catholic worship, along with a broader mix of common Catholic repertoire. It features an extensive mix of music styles, including 24 African songs and 57 Spirituals, Freedom Songs (including Lift Every Voice and Sing) and much more.

New! Total Praise. Sunday School Publishing Board, National Baptist Convention U.S.A. GIA Publications Inc 2011

Biblical Responsive Readings, Special Litanies in the Life of the Church, Hymns and Songs (by category) including over 50 Spirituals and 7 African hymns.

Songs of Zion. Nix, Verolga and Jefferson Cleveland, Editors. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1981. Read more at

This hymnal of black religious music was commissioned by the United Methodist Church. But it's not a dry book of 250 songs. It includes keys to musical interpretation, historical accounts of the black worship experience, from spirituals and hymns through contemporary gospel music. It's an indispensible resource!

Yes Lord! Church of God in Christ Hymnal. Available through the COGIC Bookstore.

Widely used by many denominations, this hymnal contains anthems and traditional hymns, a scriptural index of readings, alphabetical index of hymn titles and first lines, topical index.

Lift Every Voice and Sing II: An African-American Hymnal. Pew Version and spiral bound Accompaniment Edition available from Church Publishing. You can also find pew copies at

This popular collection of 280 musical pieces from both the African American and Gospel traditions has been compiled under the supervision of the Office of Black Ministries of the Episcopal Church. It includes service music and several psalm settings in addition to the Negro spirituals, Gospel songs, and hymns. (384 pp)

Deep River Collection. New York, NY: Hal Leonard, 2000.

Features 10 spirituals as interpreted by acclaimed conductor and arranger Moses Hogan: Deep River * Never Said a Mumblin' Word (Crucifixion) * Give Me Jesus * He's Got the Whole World in His Hands * Let Us Break Bread Together * My Good Lord's Done Been Here * Somebody's Knockin' at Yo' Door * Sometimes I Feel like a Motherless Child * Walk Together Children * Were You There?. Includes a biography of Hogan and a foreword on the history of the spiritual.

Reagon, Bernice Johnson, ed. We'll Understand it Better By and By: Pioneering African American Gospel Composers. Washington, DC: Smithsonian, 1992. Read more at

Provides a general overview of the history of gospel music, then focuses on six important figures: Charles Albert Tindley, Lucie Eddie Campbell, Thomas A. Dorsey, William Herbert Brewster, Sr., Roberta Martin, and Kenneth Morris. Accompanies the CD Wade in the Water Volume 3: Gospel Music Pioneering Composers. CD. Smithsonian Folkways, 1996.

See also GIA Publications African American Church Series: Books, Hymnals, CDs, Sheet Music and more!

CDs & Tapes: Anthologies to provide historical perspective, and resources for singing with students

2011 GIA Publications Inc.

In the liner notes, Dr. James Abbington writes:

“Congregational singing is to be a purposeful act in worship...Congregations should sing the fullness of Scripture and the times...To be an authentic expression of faith, the beliefs embodied in the hymns must be...relevant to the people that sing them.”

Purposefulness, timeliness and relevance all inspired this latest collection of hymns from GIA, “New Wine in Old Wineskins.” In a twist on the familiar Scripture passage, the “wine” is a contemporary text set to an old familiar tune, such as Mary Louise Bringle’s moving “When Memory Fades” (for persons challenged by Alzheimer’s and their caregivers) set to the tune of “Finlandia.” But in addition to “new wine” from some of the world’s finest contemporary text writers such as Bringle, the printed collections and CD also include some “old wine” from pioneering Black composers like Harry T. Burleigh and Charles A. Tindley, as well as “new wineskins” by more recent Black composers including Oliver H. Owens and V. Michael McKay.

In March 2011, choir members from five Atlanta area churches came together under the direction of James Abbington and Uzee Brown in Cannon Chapel of Emory University to record 22 songs from Volumes 1 & 2 of the NEW WINE IN OLD WINESKINS Song Supplements. Selections include: I Am Kept by the Grace of God; Thank You for Hearing Our Prayer; O Lord, Fix Me; Renew in Me a Right Spirit; Christ Is for Losers; As We Enter; and Oh, Give Thanks. There is a depth and breadth and variety here that makes both the CD and the song supplements an invaluable resource for any congregation, large or small.

Wade in the Water. Smithsonian Folkways, 1996. (4 CD Boxed Set) Program notes by Bernice Johnson Reagon and Lisa Pertillar Brevard, lyrics, and selected bibliography and discography inserted in container. Read more at

This four CD set of 19th- and 20th- century was initially released as a companion to the 1995 Peabody Award-winning radio series of the same name produced by National Public Radio and the Smithsonian Institution. Can also be purchased as individual titles:

Mercy, Mercy! A benefit album for church musicians affected by natural disasters. 100% of the retail price of this CD will be split evenly between the AGO Hurricane Relief Fund and the NPM Hurricane Assistance Fund. GIA Publications

This album will touch your heart. Best of all, your purchase will help rebuild the lives of church musicians. Both the American Guild of Organists (AGO) and the National Association of Pastoral Musicians (NPM) have set up funds to help church musicians affected by these tragic storms. The composers represented on this recording have donated their royalties; GIA Publications, Inc., has donated all production costs; KRT Select has donated the cover art for the CD; and CRT Custom Products has donated the manufacturing expenses.

In My Dream: A Celebration of African-American Music. U.S. Army Field Band, 2004. Available free to educational institutions, libraries and music educators only upon request. (Sorry, this item is not available to the general public)

This CD is a goldmine for educators. Its 27 tracks provide examples of spirituals, chants, ragtime, jazz, bebop, blues, R&B, traditional and contemporary gospel, trombone shouts...the only thing it lacks is a sample of classical composition by a great such as William Grant Still. The program notes included with the CD are outstanding; if that's not enough, you'll find more lesson plans at their web site.

What a Mighty God: Spirituals and Gospels for Chorus . VocalEssence Witness. Clarion, 2004.

For over 10 years, The VocalEssence Ensemble Singers and Chorus (conducted by Philip Brunelle) has presented an enduring series of concerts showcasing the talents of trailblazing African American composers. Now this wealth of music is available outside the concert hall through a series of recordings called WITNESS. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! The four CDs are available as single titles, or in the boxed set called The Witness Collection. (For sound samples, click on each title below.)

What a Mighty God: Spirituals and Gospels for Chorus. Sixteen 20th Century choral arrangements of music from the African American tradition rooted in spirituals and gospels. Presents 20th Century choral arrangements of music from the African American spiritual tradition rooted in spirituals and gospels, including Harry T. Burleigh's "My Lord, What a Mornin'" (1929), "Walk Together Children" (William Henry Smith, 1937) and more contemporary composers like Sanford Moore's "Go Tell It On The Mountain" (1993.)

Dance Like the Wind: Music of Today's Black Composers.
Got The Saint Louis Blues: Classical Music in the Jazz Age.
Skyward My People Rose: Music of William Grant Still.

Handel's Messiah: A Soulful Celebration - Various Artists, CD, Warner Bros. 1995 Order at

Soulful, joyful - gosh, there aren't too many CDs in my collection I play as often as this one! The overture offers "A partial history of black music" and sets the stage for the various interpretations of Handel's masterpiece created by a veritable Who's Who of contemporary black artists from all genres: Stevie Wonder, Al Jarreau, Patti Austin, Tramaine Hawkins, Dianne Reeves, the Harlem Boys Choir, just to name a few. The"Hallelujah Chorus" includes Stephanie Mills, Johnny Mathis, Joe Sample, Gladys Knight, Linda Hopkins, Andrae Crouch, Clifton Davis, and Chaka Khan and more.

N-Time Music

Gospel CDs, songbooks, sheet music, accompanyment/performance tapes and more. If they don't have it, they can probably find it for you.

Smithsonian Folkways

Folkways Records was founded in 1948 and run by Moses Asch for almost 40 years. His goal was straightforward: to record and preserve the culture and heritage of as many peoples and societies as he possibly could. At the time of his death in 1986, Folkways had released over 2200 albums, and had many more hours of reel-to-reel tape yet unreleased. The entire collection was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution in 1987, which has been making the music available in a variety of formats, from reissues of old albums to new thematic collections such as Every Tone a Testimony: A Smithsonian Folkways African American Aural History. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 2001. 2 CDs, plus booklet with extensive notes. Read more at

It is Well With My Soul: Selections from Lift Every Voice and Sing II Church Publishing, 2001.

Features the Adult Choir of Grace Episcopal Church, Norfolk, Virginia, which has been in existence for over one hundred years. They sing a varied selection of traditional Negro spirituals, gospel hymns, and contemporary spiritual songs, as well as several selections of service music.

See also GIA Publications African American Church Series: Books, Hymnals, CDs, Sheet Music and more!


Jubilee Singers: Sacrifice and Glory. Producer/Director, Liewellyn Smith. Videocassette. PBS Home Video, 2000. 60 minutes.
Program Information at PBS
Teacher's Guide at PBS

"In the chaotic decade following the Civil War, a group of young ex-slaves in Nashville, Tennessee, set out on a mission to save their financially troubled school by giving concerts. Traveling first through cities in the North, then on to venues across Europe, the Jubilee Singers introduced audiences to the power of spirituals, the religious anthems of slavery."

Say Amen, Somebody. Director, George T. Nierenberg. Videocassette. Pacific Arts Video, 1984. 100 minutes.

A joyful film about the roots of gospel music. Focusing on the aging but still vigorous "Professor" Thomas A. Dorsey and "Mother" Willie Mae Ford, it also offers musical moments by such gospel stalwarts as Sallie Martin and the Barrett Sisters. Live performances are mixed with telling, sometimes touching reminiscences by these pioneers of a musical style. One scene in particular never fails to bring me to tears...when Dorsey and Ford sit together listening to the original recording of "If You See My Saviour."

BET Journeys in Black: Kirk Franklin (2001) Read more or order at

Musical original Kirk Franklin carved his own niche in the world of gospel music by adding elements of hip-hip to traditional choir arrangements with his groups The Family, God's Property, and The Nu Nation.

BET Journeys in Black: CeCe Winans (2001) Read more or order at

There are singers and then, there's CeCe Winans. CeCe not only possesses an awesome vocal talent, but more importantly, she exudes an overwhelming warmth and a genuine affection for her fans that separates her from many celebrities. Her fans have returned the love with a staggering array of accolades. CeCe has collected six Grammies, ten Dove Awards, five Stellar Awards, several gold and platinum albums, a host of Top Ten R&B hits and eight #1 contemporary Christian music singles.

"How To" Instructional CDs and Videos

Singing in the African American Tradition - Ysaye Barnwell (CDs or Cassettes)

You'll learn how to sing multiple parts-melodies, harmonies, rhythms and counter-melodies-to more than 20 inspiring songs: African chants, spirituals, gospel songs and anthems of the American civil rights and South African freedom movements. Ysaye Barnwell, of Sweet Honey In The Rock, teaches the vocal parts one at a time. Then, you can choose whether to sing along with the melody or one of five or six distinct harmony parts. These lessons are wonderful for individuals, choirs, church, camp and community groups who want to participate in this powerful and uplifting singing tradition.

Learn to Play Gospel Piano. Taught by Ethel Caffie-Austin. DVD or VHS. Homespun 2003. Read more at

Ethel teaches the basic melody of a hymn or spiritual, and then adds the chords and bass lines that will give the song a solid rhythmic foundation. Finally, by adding intros, runs, harmonies, fills and turnarounds, you'll create a complete piano arrangement in true gospel style.

The well-known hymns and spirituals you'll be playing include "When the Saints Go Marching In," "Standing in the Need of Prayer," "Angels Keep Watching Over Me," "Can't Nobody Do Me Like Jesus," "What a Friend We Have in Jesus," "Show Me The Way," "Study War No More," "Jesus is on the Mainline," "Amazing Grace" and other beloved gospel standards.

Sheet Music Digital sheet music on demand! A wide library to select from, with adjustable keys. For example, Select from 17 versions of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" and Download a DIGITAL VERSION instantly.

N-Time Music

Gospel CDs, songbooks, sheet music, accompanyment/performance tapes and more If they don't have it, they can probably find it for you.

GIA Publications - African American Church Music Series (Books, Hymnals, CDs, Sheet Music and more!)

In 2000, GIA Publications named Dr. James Abbington as Executive Editor of a new publishing venture, The African American Church Music Series. GIA had just published the African American Heritage Hymnal and intended to begin publishing a series of choral music by America's leading African American composers and arangers. The series now boasts over 150 titles already published or in the process. CDs have been produced to introduce music from both the Series and the Hymnal, usually featuring choirs from Morgan State University conducted by Dr. Abbington.

___African American Heritage Hymnal. Delores Carpenter & Nolen E. Williams Jr. Editors. Chicago, IL: GIA Publications, 2001. Read more or order the Assembly Edition at For Accompaniment Edition, Donor book plates, etc contact GIA Publications. Also available: CD with "49 Hidden Treasures"

575 hymns, spirituals and gospel songs...I have yet to "stump" this book when looking for a title! Citations regarding authorship & copyright are thorough, the introductory essays informative, and the 'Index of Composers, Authors and Sources' invaluable. It also includes 52 Litany prayers for the Black church year, covering topics such as Black History, The Middle Passage, and Black Martyrs.

49 Hidden Treasures from the African American Heritage Hymnal. James Abbington, Conductor. Chicago, IL: GIA, 2005.Order at

The African American Heritage Hymnal is a diversified hymnal, containing the broad spectrum of hymns sung by today's congregations. Realizing that many folks tend to focus on familiar hymns even when adopting a new hymnal, Dr. James Abbington and the choirs at Morgan State University have here recorded 49 songs which he considers "undiscovered treasures." And I think he's right: 45 were new to me! They cover a wide range of styles including South African and American spirituals, historical and contemporary gospel, classical and modern hymns, plus a few Christmas selections. This collection is sure to expand the repertoire of any choir. (The liner notes state that originally 75 songs were selected, but only 49 could be squeezed onto one CD. Let's hope there will be a Hidden Treasures II.)

46 More Hidden Treasures from the African American Heritage Hymnal. James Abbington, Conductor. Chicago, IL: GIA 2007. GIA Publications

Ask and you shall receive! In response to popular demand after the release of 49 Hidden Treasures from the African American Heritage Hymnal (GIA 2005), Dr. Abbington and his amazing choirs from Morgan State University present another widely varied selection of songs. Some were familiar to me, but with new settings taking them in an unfamiliar direction, such as Mrs. Georgia Jones' arrangement of Roberta Martin's Precious Memories.

42 Treasured Favorites from the African American Heritage Hymnal. James Abbington, Conductor. Chicago, IL: GIA 2008. GIA Publications

Having presented nearly 100 of the "hidden gems" from the African American Heritage Hymnal in previous recordings, Dr. Abbington and the Morgan State University choirs now take on the challenge of presenting some of the most familiar and beloved. And "presentation" is the key word here, for while some of these traditional hymns are performed in ways familiar to congregants in just about any Christian church - for example, How Great Thou Art with traditional, stained glass rattling pipe organ accompaniment - others have been reinterpretted with arrangements by African American composers who breath new life into old hymns - for example, Father, I Stretch My Hands To Thee (Wesley/Wilson) arranged by Nolan Williams Jr. As always, this is a must-have collection for any choir eager to extend its repertoire, or for the individual listener who cherishes the music.

___African American Church Music Series - CDs and sheet music

Stop By, Lord James Abbington, Conductor. Chicago, IL: GIA, 2004. CD and Scores. Order at GIA Music (I haven't heard this one)

"This special packet includes a copy of each of fourteen pieces from this series, plus a complete compact disc recording! Performed by a special New York City recording choir under the direction of Dr. James Abbington, with Joseph Joubert, piano, and a compliment of other fine instrumentalists."

Guide My Feet. James Abbington, Conductor. Chicago, IL: GIA, 2003. CD and Scores. Order at GIA Music

Fourteen selections from the African American Church Music Series. This diverse collection - from arranged spirituals to contemporary gospel - would make an excellent choral program. Most of the scores are for SATB and piano. The CD is invaluable because (besides being a joy to listen to ) it demonstrates descants and other improvisations which are not scored. For me, a stand-out piece in this collection is the medley arranged by Joseph Joubert, "The Precious Blood of Jesus." If this closed a choral program, there would not be a dry eye in the house!

How Excellent is Thy Name. James Abbington, Conductor. Chicago, IL: GIA, 2005. Order the CD at or CD and Scores GIA Music

The singers on this recording are graduates or current students of Morgan State University, conducted by Dr. James Abbington (who also serves as Executive Editor of the series.) The selections include arrangements of spirituals ("Hold On" arr. by Uzee Brown Jr.) and early gospel songs (Lucie Campbell's "Something Within" arranged by Nathan Carter) as well as contemporary works written specifically for choruses. My favorite piece - which would be perfect for commencement ceremonies - is "May the Work I've Done Speak for Me" by Sullivan Pugh, arranged by Colin Lett. This work certainly speaks for GIA's commitment to African American churches.

Beams of Heaven. James Abbington, Conductor. Chicago, IL: GIA, 2006. CD and Scores. Order at GIA Music

Every time I think this series couldn't possibly get any better, it does. The selections include psalm-based hymn arrangements, spirituals and gospels, and composers/arrangers were asked to submit pieces which could be used in worship not only by the choir but also the congregation. A wonderful discovery are the works of Bishop Charles Price Jones (1865-1949) a contemporary of Reverend Tindley who wrote over one thousand gospel songs. His hymn I Will Make the Darkness Light is presented in three distinct styles: first sung as written, then as a solo made popular by Sarah Jordan Powell, and finally as the gospel or "saints" version.

As always, variety is key. The title work, Beams of Heaven (composed by Charles A. Tindley, arranged by Robert E. Wooten Sr.) will joyously sweep you off your feet, while I Must Tell Jesus (Elisha A. Hoffman, arranged by Mattie L. Robertson) invites quiet contemplation. Though intended as an instructional resource, this CD - with the usual unparalleled performances of graduates and current Morgan State University students - makes for compelling listening. In the month since I received it, I don't think a day has passed when I haven't listened to several tracks. Highly recommended!

Use Me. James Abbington, Conductor. Chicago, IL: GIA, 2008. CD and Scores. Order at GIA Music or

This is the fifth CD produced by GIA in a line of excellent recordings that contain many of the printed pieces from the African American Church Music Series. Featuring 17 pieces, the collection is diverse, compelling, and accessible to most church and community choirs. As usual, Abbington masterfully mixes the old with the new, and everything in between. You'll find settings of Negro spirituals like "I Know I Got Religion," "Done Made My Vow" and Uzee Brown's "Deep River." My favorite is Joseph Joubert's stunning arrangement of "Ride Up in the Chariot" featuring a solo soprano and a Broadway/gospel style piano. Traditional hand-clapping, foot-stomping gospel is represented in Eddie Robinson's "In The Word" and Frank Davis' " Savior, Lead Me." On the quieter side is the lovely contemporary Christmas lullaby "He Sleeps" by Charles Garner. The late Dr. Nathan Mitchell Carter Jr. (1936-2004), who led the Morgan State University Choir in performances all over the world while building it into one of the premier vocal groups in the nation, is remembered in his arrangements of "Precious Lord" and "I Know I Got Religion." Highly Recommended, whether you lead a choir or just cherish "joyful noise."

__Also from GIA Publishing:

New! Lead Me, Guide Me Second Edition. GIA Publications Inc. 2012 GIA Publications Inc.

Eight years in the making, this second edition of GIA's African American hymnal is an expanded and enhanced version of its predecessor. It contains the full breadth of African American church music that is suitable for Catholic worship, along with a broader mix of common Catholic repertoire. It features an extensive mix of music styles, including 24 African songs and 57 Spirituals, Freedom Songs (including Lift Every Voice and Sing) and much more.

New! LECTIONARY PSALMS - The Revised Grail Psalms. As found in LEAD ME, GUIDE ME Second Edition. GIA Publications Inc.

This 3-CD set features selections from a book of Lectionary psalms, written by some of today's finest African American composers.

Spirits That Dwell in Deep Woods. Wyatt Tee Walker. Chicago, IL: GIA Publications, 2004 Read more at

The title of this book is a phrase used by Booker T. Washington to describe evenings in his slave childhood, when families sat around the fire discussing spiritual mysteries and paradoxes. These "prayer and praise hymns" (or "neo-spirituals," as Zora Neale Hurston called them) are born of such mysteries, created by men and women of the rural South from approximately 1885 to 1925, navigating their way through the paradoxical time following emancipation, when they were no longer slaves, yet not really free.

This genre is not well known and, were it not for Dr. Walker's work, might have passed into obscurity. This awe-inspiring collection (originally published in three volumes under the same title) presents the music and lyrics for 24 songs, arranged for four part harmony. Each song includes an introduction, brief discussion of its Biblical basis, theological mooring, lyric and form analysis, and contemporary significance.

Also Spirits That Dwell in Deep Woods. The Deep Woods Sacred Singers, James Abbington, Conductor. Chicago, IL: GIA, 2004. CD plus booklet with introduction and lyrics. Twenty-four "prayer and praise hymns" from the era following emancipation. GIA Publications

Also Spirits That Dwell in Deep Woods - Music Book GIA Publications

Catholic Classics 7: African American Sacred Songs. GIA, 2004.

This music is gorgeous and for the most part, very contemplative. (Only the opening and closing songs have an upbeat tempo and even those are a bit restrained: "Soon and Very Soon" and "We've Come This Far by Faith.") Though the enclosed booklet contains lyrics and publication info, there are no background notes. According to the New York Public Library African American Desk Reference, there are only about 2 million Black Catholics in the US, compared to about 13 million Baptists, 8 million Methodists, 6 million Church of God in Christ, etc. Surely I'm not the only one who wants to know things like: How representative of the tradition is this music? Why were these particular songs selected? What IS the Catholic African American tradition, and where is it primarily practiced? I wish they'd told me more. (Though you can find more in LEAD ME, GUIDE ME: The African American Catholic Hymnal.)