"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.

In celebration of the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, musicians and scholars lead a moving evening of song, narratives, and reflections in the nave of Washington National Cathedral. Selections 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 also honors the scholarship of Dr. Eileen Guenther, whose new book, In Their Own Words, focuses on the genesis and power of the Spirituals.

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