During February, Black History Month, until Lent begins, we will be singing Eucharistic Prayers set to the tunes of African-American spirituals: Alleluia- “Oh! What a Beautiful City,” Holy, Holy -”Ol’ Time Religion,” Memorial Acclamation- “Let Us Break Bread Together,” Amen- “He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands,” Lamb of God- “My Lord What A Morning.”
From the preface notes included in the musical score:
For Black Catholics, remembering the past, honoring the present and imagining the future necessarily informs the cultural articulation in the celebration of the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Spirituals, an early musical tradition of the African American experience, are a foundational part of their cultural, civic, and theological history.
The music is drawn from the depth of African American experience in slavery and in freedom. This body of folk music is also a gift to the wider American and world families.
When we sing these spiritual tunes at Mass, even though they now carry the words of our liturgical prayers, think of the millions of voices through hundreds of years that have sung these same songs while affirming their faith in God and hope in their hearts for that beautiful city in this world and the next.