What are hymns supposed to do?
Praise God, first and foremost.
But what else do they do?
Tell us the story of our faith in a memorable way.
So, when we look at hymns, we can expect a progression of praise and story-telling.
Some of our favorites move us through the gospel story, and today is no different
ELW #290 Go Tell It on the Mountain
An African American spiritual.
Lots of different version and interpretations.
A slave/plantation song proclaiming God’s work for the lowly.
Like the shepherds
Like the Israelite exiles.
African American theologian James H. Cone’s interpretation of this spiritual. Dr. Cone states that “the conquering King, and the crucified Lord . . . has come to bring peace and justice to the dispossessed of the land. That is why the slave wanted to ‘go tell it on de mountain.’”
So, the history of this song was captured by a man named John Wesley Works Jr. II
1871-1925-first African American collector of spirituals and folks songs.
He didn’t write them, they were already in existence all over, but he did collect them so they were not lost
Also, a choir director and professor.
Go tell it on the Mountain saved Fisk University
a small private historically black university in Nashville
this helped saved the university during a cashed strapped time
The Fisk Jubilee Singers (drawing their name from Leviticus 25—the year of jubilee) were founded as a ten-member touring ensemble to raise funds for debt-ridden Fisk University. Taking the entire contents of the University treasury with them for travel expenses, they departed on October 6, 1871, from Nashville on their difficult, but ultimately successful eighteen-month tour, a triumph that is still celebrated annually as Jubilee Day on the campus. Though not the original repertoire of the group, by the time they reached New York in December of that year, their concerts grew to include more and more spirituals, until their program consisted primarily of choral arrangements of spirituals.
Works went on to direct this choir and publish
New Jubilee Songs as Sung by the Fisk Jubilee Singers (1901)
So, what do these verses tell us?
Most obvious are the verses added by Works-based on Luke 2:7-20
Other references show
So, what can this song teach us now?
The importance of testimony
Actually, talking about what God is doing