In Jamaica in the early 1800s, the church played an important role in the dismantling of slavery. Baptist missionaries, in particular, have expressed their distaste for this evil system. So, on Sunday, it’s no surprise that churches across the island are jubilant in their celebration of the emancipation and freedoms it has brought to the island. What surprised foreigners looking out of church windows online was the amplified use of reggae music by traditional churches to tell the story of emancipation. Bob Marley’s Song of redemption was the hymn and a common thread regardless of denomination in almost every church visited. And the worship and worship teams in many churches literally went out of their way, on organ and so on, to make sure the celebration was indigenous and that the music and message was unmistakably Jamaican and clearly understood by the congregations. from all over the island.
National hero Sam Sharpe, who instigated the Christmas Rebellion in 1831, was a Baptist slave and preacher, and at Bethel Baptist Church in Half-Way Tree, the Emancipation Day service was started with an interpretation of Song of redemption by Alison and Daniel Golding on trumpet and guitar, respectively. After a spitfire sermon from the Rev. Stephen Henry of the Jamaica Baptist Union, in which he suggested that some Jamaicans live in exile in their homes, the catchy musical selections included Rivers of Babylon (Melodians), Rule book (Heptones), and Lord give me strength (Luciano), supported by the Bethel Steel Orchestra.
“It is not that we are abandoning our usual hymns, because as you can see, we have used the traditional favorite dear lord and Father of humanity Sunday, but for special services like empowerment, we amplify the Jamaican character of the service, ”said a devotee The gleaner. “Worship service will reflect society, which is a combination of love for the past and the present, hence this exciting fusion of music,” added Genevieve Stewart, deacon at Linstead Baptist Church. The spirit of the celebration was similar to the Calvary Baptist Church in Montego Bay, where the service kicked off with the cheerful Jamaican composition Enter Jerusalem, written by Catholic priest Father Richard Ho Lung. In the sanctuary of Webster Memorial United Church, the moving performance of Alison Roberts of Marley’s Song of redemption and Noel Dexter praise the Lord alongside Reverend Astor Carlyle’s captivating sermon would have melted the heart of even the most cruel slave owner.
At the Cathedral of St Jago de la Vega in Spanish Town, Peter Tosh’s Jah is my keeper echoed in the high ceilings of the 19th century Anglican building, sung by the choir. And at the Emancipation Service of Swallowfield Chapel, church leader Rochelle Duncan greeted visitors with a warm Jamaican welcome, “Mi glad fi see unnu you see,” followed by a lively mix of local music. by a dynamic reggae group and an easy to skank vocal trio.
“The Emancipation Day service at St Mark’s in Brown’s Town was brilliant,” said Norma Walters, a retired church organist who has performed for about 50 years. “It started with the sound of the abeng followed by a drum roll. The procession of clergy and waiters was accompanied by a medley of Bob Marley classics, Song of redemption and War. And we lit candles in memory of the slaves who lost their lives or were tortured in the Christmas Rebellion from 1831 to 1832, recognizing each by name. Walters added.
Back at Half-Way Tree at St Andrew’s Parish Church, the celebration was at the heart of reggae. Almost all of the service used Jamaican music, with the Eucharist being administered against the background of music by Marley. Song of redemption enriched by piano, congas, violin and bass guitar. “Generally, music is more culturally aligned on Emancipation Day when there is an increased level of identification with Black and Black culture,” said St Andrew’s music director and arranger Audley Davidson. The gleaner. “The Emancipation Day hymns reinforce the liturgical themes of identity, pride, freedom, courage and resilience. Thus, you will find the incorporation of artists such as Mark Myrie’s (Buju Banton’s) version of The Lord’s Prayer, Wayne Marshall Lord I pray, and that of Peter Tosh Jah is my keeper included in church services across Jamaica. Reggae songs like these connect the Jamaican soul to Massa God, and there are churches that further intensify the Jamaican experience by reading the Jameikan Nyuu Testament Bible, ”he revealed.
Dave Rodney schedules music for the Facebook page, church music from around the world. [email protected]