Special Event

God’s Gonna Trouble the Water: Freedom’s Call and Response in African American Spirituals

Wednesday, September 21, 2016 | 7:00pm

“Wade in the water children. God’s gonna trouble the water.” So sang the conductors on the underground railroad as they brought people along the dangerous path to freedom. The spirituals tell the often untold story of a people in their struggle to survive and  be  free from the tyranny of slavery.  Through rhythms and song an enslaved people crafted a music that testified to their faith and their humanity as it contested the ideologies and institutions that enslaved them. The spirituals found expression through the blues and the freedom songs of the Civil Rights movement and continue to call out to us today as they witness to a time when all of God's children will be free.  

NMAAHC logoIn celebration of the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, musicians and scholars will lead a moving evening of song, narratives, and reflections in the nave of Washington National Cathedral. Selections to include Wade in the Water, Swing Low Sweet Chariot, Woke up this Morning, Go Down Moses, This Little Light of Mine, We Shall Overcome, and John Coltrane’s searing composition Alabama, composed as musical response to the Birmingham church bombing of 1963. The event will also honor the scholarship of Dr. Eileen Guenther, whose new book, In Their Own Words, focuses on the genesis and power of the Spirituals.

Speakers and Musicians: The Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, the Rev. Dr. Rose Duncan, Kehembe Eichelberger, Stanley Thurston and Dr. Eileen Guenther.

"God's Gonna Trouble the Water" is presented in celebration of the Grand Opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. The views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.



  • Admission
  • Dates Offered
    • September 21, 2016 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm