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Friday, October 15, 2021

Repetitive Songs In Contemporary Black Worship Services Collection Marches: "I'd Rather Be An Old Time Christian"



Sheldon Smith, Jan 16, 2015

-snip-
This video shows a soloist and four other members of Calvary Tabernacle UPC (Jamaica), a Jamaican Apostolic church choir singing the old hymn, "I'd Rather Be An Old Time Christian". They are accompanied by a snare drummer, two electric guitarists, and a person playing a keyboard are seated in an enclosed area. The other young musicians.The soloist and the four other singers are standing apart the rest of the choir who are in the choir stands. The video doesn't show them until around 1:14. The soloist is standing in a rather wide empty area between the podium and the congregation who are seated in pews. The quartet is also standing below the podium but they are in front of it , and apart from the quartet. At around 1:14 in this video, the choir begins to march down from the podium while they sing. The quartet joins this march but, at least for a time, the soloit continues singing but doesn't join the march. At portions of the march, the still singing choir moves sideways or marches with their backs turned to the congregation. This is the first time I've come across videos of a praise and worship march like this. 

**** 
Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post is part of an ongoing pancocojams series that highlights examples of repetitive songs in contemporary Black worship services collection marches (processionals). 

This post showcases a video of a Jamaican Apostolic church doing a march to the chorus of the  gospelized hymn "I'd Rather Be An Old Time Christian."

"Gospelized hymn" is my term for a hymn that is sung in a Gospel style.  

This post includes the lyrics for the complete song. For comparison's sake, this post also includes a rendition of this song by a White American choir from a First Assemblies Of God church.

Selected comments from the discussion thread for this video is also included in this post. 

Addendum #1 of this post includes information about St. Andrews parish, where the Jamaican church that is showcased in this post is located. 

Addendum #2 of this post presents my description of two AME church collection marches that I observed in Pleasantville, New Jersey in 2019.    

The content of this post is presented for religious, cultural, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to the composer/s of this song. Thanks also to C
alvary Tabernacle UPC (Jamaica) for their ministeries. Thanks to Sheldon Smiththe publisher of these videos on YouTube.

****
DISCLAIMER: "Repetitive songs in Black worship services" does not mean that these songs aren't sung by non-Black people.

Click the "repetitive songs in Black worship services" tag to find additional pancocojams posts in this series.

Also, click to read my description of an AME church collection march that I observed in Pleasantville, New Jersey in 2019.

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LYRICS: I'D RATHER BE AN OLD TIME CHRISTIAN
(composer, when composed ?)

Verse-1:

IN THIS WORLD I’VE TRIED MOST EVERYTHING

AND I’M HAPPY NOW TO SAY.

THERE’S NOTHING LIKE RELIGION IN THE GOOD OLD-FASHIONED WAY

I AM WALKING IN THE OLD-TIME WAY

AND I WANT THE WORLD TO KNOW.

THAT I’D RATHER BE AN OLD-TIME CHRISTIAN

THAN ANYTHING I KNOW.

 

Chorus:

I’D RATHER BE AN OLD-TIME CHRISTIAN

THAN ANYTHING I KNOW.

THERE’S NOTHING LIKE AN OLD-TIME CHRISTIAN

WITH A CHRISTIAN LOVE TO SHOW.

I’M WALKING IN THE GRAND OLD HIGHWAY

AND I’M TELLING EVERYWHERE I GO.

THAT I’D RATHER BE AN OLD-TIME CHRISTIAN

THAN ANYTHING I KNOW.

 

Verse-2:

ALL THE WORLD IS BRIGHT SINCE I GOT RIGHT

NOW I SING AND PRAY AND SHOUT;

ALL MY BURDENS HAVE BEEN LIFTED SINCE THE SAVIOR BROUGHT ME OUT.

I WILL TELL THE WORLD BOTH FAR AND NEAR AS I TRAVEL HERE BELOW

THAT I’D RATHER BE AN OLD-TIME CHRISTIAN

THAN ANYTHING I KNOW.

 
Online Source: 
https://www.hymnlyrics.org/requests/id_rather_be_an_old_time_christian.php

****
LINK TO A COMPARISON RENDITION
For a comparison between how this featured Jamaican Apostolic choir sings "I'd Rather Be An Old Time Christian" and another way it is sung, click https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZJvS3so73Q&ab_channel=VBFAChurch.  That video is for a 2014 rendition of this song by a White American church choir. Here's the summary for that video by VBFA Church, I'd Rather Be An Old Time Christian": Music, praise and worship and choir songs by the VBFA Choir led by Music Pastor Rev. Gary Grisham at Van Buren First Assembly of God, Arkansas. Pastor Bobby L. Johnson. VBFAtv

****
SELECTED COMMENTS FROM THIS VIDEO'S DISCUSSION THREAD

Numbers added for referencing purposes only.

1. Nordia Richards, 2016
"I love this choir and their ministry.keep on singing for the lord."

**
2. Debbie Campbell, 2016
"amazing move of the holy ghost..it  goes to show its not about the crowd or large choir it's all about the anointing....love it."

**
3. N. w, 2018
"Fire of God is there keep stomping I rather be old time Christian Jesus"

**
4. Marcia Mitchell, 2018
"i would love the words of this song"

**
5. Patricia Henry, 2018

"Chorus:

I’D RATHER BE AN OLD-TIME CHRISTIAN

THAN ANYTHING I KNOW.

THERE’S NOTHING LIKE AN OLD-TIME CHRISTIAN

WITH A CHRISTIAN LOVE TO SHOW.

I’M WALKING IN THE GRAND OLD HIGHWAY

AND I’M TELLING EVERYWHERE I GO.

THAT I’D RATHER BE AN OLD-TIME CHRISTIAN

THAN ANYTHING I KNOW."

**
6. Jevaughn Williams, 2018
"Holy ghost bless them so them serve you"

**
7. Tamara Turner, 2019
"I really want to get back to this level of worship... Blessings sis"

**
8.
Gloria, 2019
"This is the old time church."

**
9. Opal Allen, 2020
"
WOW WOW WOW We sang this in church in Kentucky USA in the 50's."

**
10. Thomas Just, 2020
"wow this is amazing, they are indeed filled with the spirit"

**
11. 
Daughter Of Omega, 2020
"Where do I find this church?  Mi like it holy ghost is moving there."

**
Reply
12. Nadine Mitchell, 2020
"Luna UPC is in St. Andrew. Calvary Tabernacle UPC is in St. Ann's Bay"
-snip-
This comment is written in response to another one which mistakenly indicated that this church is located in St. Ann's Bay, a parish in Jamaica. Read information about St. Andrew, a parish in Jamaica in the Addendum below.

**
13. Woman Of Purpose, 2021
"Anointed singing,love it"

**
14. Veron Watkis, 2021
"
THANKING GOD FOR MODERN Technology, for THESE WONDERFUL SERVICES.....JESUS CHRIST THEY BLESSES ME,So much. 👍🙏🙏🙏💏😍🔥🗣💞💥"

****
ADDENDUM #1
From 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Andrew_Parish,_Jamaica
"Saint Andrew is a parish, situated in the southeast of Jamaica in the county of Surrey. It lies north, west and east of Kingston, and stretches into the Blue Mountains… 

The parish has a rich musical tradition, with numerous well-known musicians and developing popular types of Jamaican music. The Studio One studio founded by Clement "Coxsone" Dodd is in Saint Andrew. Mavado, Sean Paul, Buju Banton, Elephant Man, The Mighty Diamonds, Monty Alexander, Beres Hammond, Lady Saw, Sugar Minott, Bounty Killer, Mr. Vegas, Richie Spice are some of the parish's current musician residents.

The area of Trenchtown became famous for such residents as The Wailers (Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh and Bob Marley), and Toots Hibbert, who created reggae music. Waterhouse is another hometown to many musicians, including Keith Hudson, King Tubby's, U Roy, Sir Jammy's, Black Uhuru, Dennis "Senitor" Allen, Early B. Super Cat, Shabba, and Beenie Man. It is also the home of Olympic gold medalist, Shelly-Ann Fraser.

[…]

The area of Norbrook was once the plantation of George William Gordon. The Bob Marley Museum is located in a mansion on Hope Road that was once owned by businessman Chris Blackwell. It is now open for guided tours."...

****
ADDENDUM #2
After watching YouTube videos of at least ten Black church collection marches, here's what appears to me to be the basis formation pattern for Black church collection (offering) marches

Based on a number of YouTube videos that I've watched, it appears that most church choir marches for collections appear to follow a similar marching pattern:
1. the choir marches in single file from the choir stand
2.The choir remains in single file and imarches up one aisle (usually the right aisle)
3. The choir marches down the center aisle still in single file. When they reach the people standing with collection plates, members of the choir put their collection envelope into the collection plate
4. The choir remains in single file andmarch down the left aisle to the top of the center aisle
5. The chori remains in single file to march down the center aisle again.
6. The choir marches to the choir stand.


However, this showcased video reminds me that there are variations in how these Black church collection marches may be done. I observed a different formation pattern of church collection marches (except for the song) on two Sundays in 2019 at St. Paul's AME church in Pleasantville, New Jersey (
March 10, 2019 & Sunday June 9, 2019) This is a description of the collection march that I observed on June 9, 2019.

These choir collection marches ("march around") occurred after all those in attendance at that church -starting from the back pews- stood up and walked in single file to the front of the church for the main offering. People placed money in one of two gold colored collection plates that were held by two female ushers standing on either side of the altar. This was the second collection, the first being the missionary offering. For that offering, people remained seated and ushers passed a collection plate to the end of each pew.

After the congregation returned to their seats, the choir marched out of the choir stands in single file from the left and the right while singing the classic Gospel song "Highway To Heaven". The body stance of each choir member was erect, and not the leaning forward with heads down stance and chugging forward movement which was done by the Black Canadian choir from Abiezer Pentecostal Church's collection march as shown in this 2009 YouTube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQ5xSuIMfuo.

After the two lines of choir members exited the choir stand, one line marched up the right aisle and one line marched up the left aisle. The two single lines met at the top of the center aisle. Then the choir marched in twos down the center aisle. When they reached the bottom of the center aisle, the person to the right placed her offering in the collection plate held by one usher, and the person to the left placed her offering in the collection plate held by the other usher. The line on the right and the line on the left then marched to their respective aisles. When they reached those aisles, the marchers faced backwards while moving up those aisles. At the top of the aisles, the marchers faced forward again and then marched to the top of the center aisle. At the top of the center aisle the two single lines combined to march in twos down that aisle. The combined line then separated at the bottom of the center aisle to march back towards the right and the left to re-enter the choir stand. When they reached the choir stand, they continued standing to sing their song.
-snip-
These notes was originally posted on the this pancocojams post:http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2019/03/two-videos-of-new-jersey-church-choir.html .

Read more of what I wrote about collection march arounds in other Pleasantville, New Jersey churches and choir processions in those churches and in my "home" church of Union Baptist Temple Church in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Additions and corrections are welcome.

****
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Visitor comments are welcome. 

Repetitive Songs In Contemporary Black Worship Services Collection Marches: "Redeem" ("Give Me Some Water To Wash My Hands")



BROTHERTENNYSON, Oct 23, 2010

The Bethel Born Again Choir Jamaica singing and marching during the collecting of the offering. -snip- This video shows the choir (led by an usher) marching around the sanctuary singing two lines from Verse #2 of the song entitled "Redeem". The first line of that clip of "Redeem" "Give me some water, let me wash my hands" is repeated numerous times. Then the choir sings othe second line "I won't be guilty". (That line is itself only part of  the line in that song). The words "I won't be guilty" are repeated numerous times. Afterward, this pattern begins again - numerous times.

****
Edited by Azizi Powell


This pancocojams post is part of an ongoing pancocojams series that highlights examples of repetitive songs in contemporary Black worship service collection marches (processionals). 

This post showcases two videos of Bethel Born Again Apostolic Church in Kingston, Jamaica singing the chorus of the song "Redeem" (also given as "Redeemed, I've Been Washed In The Blood Of The Lamb"). 

Selected comments from the discussion thread for these videos are also included in this post. 
The lyrics for the complete song are given in the comments for Video #2 along with some other comments from that discussion thread.  

The Addendum to this post presents a comment from a discussion thread of a Nov. 11, 2011 Bethel 
Born Again Apostolic Church in Kingston, Jamaica video. That comment compliments  the usher who led that choir and also presents the commenter's opinion about the purpose of these marches. The usher who leads the choir in both of the videos in this post may be the same young man as the usher who that commenter wrote about.

The content of this post is presented for religious, cultural, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to the composer/s of this song. Thanks also to Bethel Born Again Apostolic Church in Kingston, Jamaica for their ministeries. Thanks to BROTHERTENNYSON, the publisher of these videos on YouTube.

****
DISCLAIMER: "Repetitive songs in Black worship services" does not mean that these songs aren't sung by non-Black people.

Click the "repetitive songs in Black worship services" tag to find additional pancocojams posts in this series.

****
SHOWCASE VIDEO #2: 
Bethel Born Again Church of Jesus Christ, Apostolic (Holy Convocation 2012)



BROTHERTENNYSON, Oct 23, 2012

The Bethel Born Again Church of Jesus Christ, Apostolic Mass Choir and the Kids Choir marching during the collecting of the offering on the last night of Holy Convocation 2012. The song is entitled: "Redeem". "The Bethel Born Again is in its 66th Year, but Celebrations 50 years of being at the Oakland Road location in Kingston".
-snip-
This video shows the choirs (led by an usher) marching around the sanctuary while singing the complete song entitled "Redeem". 

****
SELECTED COMMENTS FROM THE DISCUSSION THREADS FOR THESE VIDEOS

Numbers are added for referencing purposes only.

Video #1

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VD_OgUpH4jw&ab_channel=BROTHERTENNYSON

1. Kafi Zola, 2014
"I like the spirit, but it is difficult to understand what they are singing about.  The church I sometimes attend is too sophisticated to praise the Lord like this. I miss this type of worship."

**
2. BROTHERTENNYSON, 2015
""Give me some water, let me wash my hand, I won't be guilty" It is the line of the song "Redeemed, I've been washed in the blood of the lamb".
-snip-
The words of that clip of the song "Redeem" (or "Redeemed, I've been washed in the blood of the lamb" are what Pontius Pilate, the Roman govenor of Judaea said when he presided over the trial of Jesus and then ordered Jesus to be crucified.   

**
3. 
CalledUntoHoliness, 2021
"
The won't be guilty part hits me everytime! Thank God for the cleansing blood and the water of his word that cleanses us!"

****
Video #2

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJqKUkCvYXg&ab_channel=BROTHERTENNYSON

1. KRISSY MCINTOSH,2015
"I've been so blessed, that's my church. Amen, give me some water let me wash my hands. I won't be guilty of an innocent man"

**
2. Cardi top, 2016
"1. Jesus was having his last passover

Judas was resting upon his shoulder

spoke those words and they were right

one of you going to betray me tonight.

then they began to enquire within,

which of us will do such awful thing"

Mark cried out "Lord is it I"

Luke cried out "Lord is it I"

John cried out Lord is it I

Judas cried out Lord is it I

and they all cried out Lord is it I

CHORUS

Redeem, redeem, redeem, redeem, I've been washed in the blood of the lamb

2.  Judas been that deceitful man

'twas he would betray that innocent lamb

thirty piece of silver and it was done

but he himself in the woods did hang

Pilot's wife she had a dream

that innocent man she never had seen

give me some water let me wash my hands

I won't be guilty of that innocent man

3.  Jerusalem been six furlongs off

there they nailed him to the Romans cross

they ribbit his hands and they nailed his feet

the hammers were heard in Jerusalem street

he called his father, called him in love

the doors and the Windows stood open above

saints wear girdles around their waist

the angels took their wings and Vailed their face"
-snip-
These lyrics are from two comments that Cardi top posted on that discussion thread. The second comment was written right after the first one and is a slight correction to the lyrics that were previously given.

**
3. Tamara Bennett, 2018
"
Is this a revival church"

**
Reply
4. BROTHERTENNYSON, 2018
"Tamara Bennett, Praise the Lord Jesus, It is not a revival church. The church that is featured is an Apostolic Church. The excerpt is of the collection of the offering and this is the ministry of the choir singing and marching. Be blessed"

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ADDENDUM : SELECTED COMMENT FROM ANOTHER DISCUSSION THREAD

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uyirmZb5fkY&ab_channel=BethelBornAgainChurchOfJesusChrist

A Grand Meeting - Part 2*, published by Bethel Born Again Church Of Jesus Christ, November 22, 2021

Comment:

Christopher Patterson, 2013
"i used to march a choir some years ago and i happen to know how it is done,,this boy is the best i have every seen i want to meet him..the marching of a choir is a ministry all by its self. this is a true display of ministry. Notice that he not only marches with is feet only but his hands(for taring down strong holds) and his whole body. and the expression on his face show seriousness..putting his whole soul in it. his whole body movement strongly tells of leading into a warefar mode(which is what marching a choir is all about...ref; joshua leading the children of Isreal into battle at jericho)....very well done usher...keep on doing the work of God,he will allow some one to minister to u in a different way when the time comes..you are a very good example of a true minister...u have minister to me in a way that u would never understand....u have now caused me to make a serious decision to go back into minister...thanks my brother. i wish to see you personnally one day and bless you with some substance just as you have ministered to me."
-snip-
Thank you Christopher Patterson. I added this comment to this pancocojams post because I found what you wrote about the usher leading these marches that are featured in this post and what you wrote about the purpose of  Apostolic marches in general to be profound and somewhat obvious once you think about it. (And perhaps the purpose that you noted for these marches is the same for the African American church choir processionals that used to begin church services but now seldom occur.)

Until I read this comment, I hadn't connected Joshua leading a march around Jericho to the contemporary choirs as God's army marching around the church to fortify the sanctuary from Satan and his forces. Now I get that those marching are a demonstration that they can trample Satan and that they are trampling Satan just like numerous old time church songs said.

And, after reading that comment, it occurs to me that the reason why these Jamaican (and Jamaican influenced) Apostolic church choirs march during the offering is to help ensure that  no evil forces mess with the money that has been collected. 

Prior to reading that comment from Christopher Patterson, I believed that the offering marches as well as the choir marches that began church services were a way of calling forth the Holy Spirit and praising God. I believe those reasons are still true. I also postulated that these Jamaican processional "walk arounds" were an evolution of the 18th century, 19th century and later "ring shouts". I think that that theory is still quite plausible. But maybe the ring shout is a better explanation for the tradition some people have of running around the sanctuary when they feel the Holy Spirit.

I also believe that Black church marches -including those done during collection- occur (or occurred) for the marcher and congregation's visual and aural pleasure. They are fun to watch. A lot of processions are a good show and Black people love being "extra" (going beyond the expected norms). That may explain the sideways formation that are shown in the video of a Jamaican Apostolic choir that is showcased in this pancocojams post: https://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2021/10/repetitive-songs-in-contemporary-black_18.html

Black people's admiration of pagentry may also explain the moving forward while facing backwards that I observed an AME (African Methodist Espicopal) choir perform during a collection march in New Jersey in 2019. My description of that march is included in that same post. 

I'm interested in your thoughts about what Christopher Patterson wrote and what I wrote about why and how these Jamaican walk around marches during offerings occur the way they do and occur when they do.

There's too little information and comments online about these and other Black church marches. Please add to this discussion.   

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Thursday, October 14, 2021

Repetitive Songs In Contemporary Black Worship Service Collection Marches: "We Have An Anchor"



First United Tabernacle International Ministries, Published on Nov 26, 2016 

31st Pastoral Appreciation Celebration , Nov. 13, 2016
-snip-
FUTIM is an Apostolic church that is located in Orange, New Jersey. (Orange, New Jersey is about 24 minutes by car from New York City). 

Comments in various discussion threads of this churches' videos confirm that the pastor (when these videos were published) was from Jamaica and that church is heavily influenced by Jamaican Apostolic Pentecostal music styles and worship practices.
  
The choir and church congregation repeatedly sing the lyrics to "We Have An Anchor" while the choir marches in a processional during a church offering. The choir sings while exiting the choir stand in single file and continues singing throughout this march. They are joined by a few other people (church officials?) who march behind them down the right hand aisle and then down the center aisle. The choir then marches pass two men standing in front of the podium with offering bowls. Some choir members put their tithes or monetary contributions in those bowls and, remaining in single file, the choir returns to the choir stands still singing. Members of the congregation stand and sing  along with the choir. Some of the congregation show in different ways that they are feeling the Holy Spirit, but in this video, none of the choir members leave the pews to "do a holy dance" or otherwise show that they have "gone in" (to use African American terms that may not be used in Jamaica.)

****
Edited by Azizi Powell

This is the first post in an ongoing pancocojams series that highlights examples of repetitive songs in contemporary Black worship service collection marches (processionals). 

This post showcases two videos of a Jamaican influenced African American congregation and one Jamaican church congregation singing the gospelized hymn "We Have An Anchor".

"Gospelized hymn" is my term for a hymn that is performed in a Gospel style.   

The content of this post is presented for religious, cultural, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Priscilla Jane Owens and William James Kirkpatrick for composing the lyrics and music for the hymn "Will Your Anchor Hold". The lyrics to "We Have An Anchor" are the chorus of that hymn.

Thanks to 
First United Tabernacle International Ministries for its ministries and thanks for sharing this video on YouTube.
-snip-
The title of this pancocojams series originally included the words "That Are Sung To Evoke The Holy Spirit". I changed that title because I believe that everything that these church does is to evoke and/or praise the Holy Spirit.

DISCLAIMER: "Repetitive songs in Black worship services" does not mean that these songs aren't sung by non-Black people.

Click the "repetitive songs in Black worship services" tag to find additional pancocojams posts in this series. 

The pancocojams post "Let's March Forward For God (Fight Like Soldier Men) Gospel Song, & Praise Marches As Contemporary Forms Of Ring Shouts
https://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2021/10/lets-march-forward-for-god-fight-like.html that was published before I began this series should also be considered part of this pancocojams series of repetitive songs in Black worship services.

Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2019/05/seven-youtube-examples-of-christian.html for a 2019 pancocojams post entitled 
"Seven YouTube Examples Of The Christian Song "Will Your Anchor Hold" (also known as "We Have An Anchor That Keeps The Soul")". The lyrics to "Will Your Anchor Hold" are included in this post.

Also, click https://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2021/10/excerpts-about-how-some-traditional.html for the closely related pancocojams post entitled "
Excerpts About How Some Traditional West African And Central African Music & Dance Patterns Helped Shape The Afro-Caribbean & The Black American Ring Shout". 
  
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PANCOCOJAMS EDITOR'S NOTE
I wasn't familiar with the song "We Have An Anchor" until I happened upon it in the first video in this post. I've since learned from surfing the internet that "We Have An Anchor" is a chorus of the 19th century (White American composed) song "Will Your Anchor Hold" which is a theme song for the "The Boys' Brigade", an international interdenomination Christian youth organization that started in 1883 in Glasgow, Scotland. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boys%27_Brigade.

"We Have An Anchor" appears to be very well known in certain Afro-Caribbean churches.  
I wonder how well this hymn or any of its gospelized versions are known in the United States, particularly in African American churches that don't have a large number of Caribbean members. 

****
LYRICS: "WE HAVE AN ANCHOR" [chorus of "Will Your Anchor Hold"]
Words: Priscilla Jane Owens
Music: William James Kirkpatrick, 1882

We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior's love.

****
SHOWCASE VIDEO #2: Praise & Worship--We Have An Anchor



FUTIM-Orange, NJ, January 18, 2010
-snip-
"FUTIM" is "First United Tabernacle International Ministries". This is the same church that is showcased in Video #1.

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SHOWCASE VIDEO #3: Spiritual Baptist from St Vincent




The Admiral Quow, May 2, 2012

Leader Andrez Thanksgiving(Mother Amoy on the Field singing''We Have an anchor that keeps our soul''.

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Excerpts About How Some Traditional West African And Central African Music & Dance Patterns Helped Shape The Afro-Caribbean & The Black American Ring Shout

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post provides four excerpts that provide information about how some traditional West African and Central African music and dance patterns helped shape the development of the Afro-Caribbean and the Black American ring shout. 

With regard to those African music and dance patterns that are described in these excerpts, I'm particularly interested in the use of circular formations and circling movements, the use of drums and/or other percussion instruments including hand clapping,  the use of repetitive singing, and the use of repetitive dance movements as ways of evoking the spirit/s.  

These excerpts are quoted without the citations that they included.

The content of this post is presented for historical, folkloric, and cultural purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.
-snip-
This post is part of pancocojams' ongoing series on the ring shout and on Afro-Caribbean religions. Click the tags below for more posts in these series.

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EXCERPT #1 

https://etd.ohiolink.edu/apexprod/rws_etd/send_file/send?accession=bgsu1131054976&disposition=inline

“Shabach Hallelujah!: The Continuity Of The Ring Shout Tradition As A Site Of Music And Dance In Black American Worship

Erica Lanice Washington

A Thesis Submitted to the Graduate College of Bowling Green State University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Music

December 2005

[...]

[page] 11

"A primary purpose of each African worship experience is to communicate with the divine. The most universal acts of worship among sub-Saharan Africans are sacrifices and offerings. These expressions are fashioned in order to secure help for the community in regards to daily life. Prayerful offerings are made to God, to the living-dead, and to other spirits in time of need and sometimes accompany acts of worship. Music historian Samuel A. Floyd observes, “the African religious faith was utilitarian, practical, and spiritual.”31 The gods and men communicate with each other through sacrifice, divination, and spirit possession. 32


[...]

[page] 12

Music and Dance Patterns in African Religions

 Africans make contact with spirits through music. According to Raboteau, “dancing, drumming, and singing play a constant and integral part in the worship of gods and the ancestors.”34 Indeed, they work together. Gods mount – that is, possess – their devotees through dance, the physical expression of the musical elements. The relationship of dance, song, and drum in African-based worship is evidenced in the possession dance Akem performed in the Akan tradition:

The priest whirls round and round after he has first marked spots with powder and delimited both his dancing ring and important positions. As many rounds of this piece are played as the priest desires, while the singers call to God, the creator of the firmament (Oboonyame). One of the important gestures the priest has to make in this opening dance is to point his dancing sword to the sky and then downwards towards the earth.

When enough rounds of the music for the opening dance have been played, the drummers begin the next piece, called adaban. Instead of using swift turns, the priest moves forward along a circular track while the singers sing songs of invocation. 

After the adaban the drummers play the music of abofoe, imitative of the hunters’ dance, while the singers praise the prowess of the divinity who, like the hunter, hunts down evil and protects his child from evil men and spirits. A similar piece entitled abefotia is played as a sequel to this, followed by the remaining eight pieces.

When the spirit so moves him, the priest may change the order around by asking for any songs or drum pieces he likes. He never stands still. When he is not dancing, he will walk about, do short runs, dash in and out of the crowd, impersonate various creatures, invite people into the ring by throwing a fly whisk or cowtail switch which he holds in his left hand to them, or shake hands with people along the dancing ring.35

Although dance, song, and drum are described separately in the Akem dance, they work together to form a single expressive entity. The priest, drummers, and singers can signal the

[page] 13

ending, beginning, or function of a music/dance section. The rhythms of the drums are heard through singing and seen through dancing.

Melva Wilson Costen's notion of an exchange between divine and human responses in African American Christian worship is seen as a confluence in the Akan Akem example. God’s divine initiative is first seen in the obedience of the devotees to worship God through other deities. It is also seen in the act of the priest clearing the space for worship of the gods through dance and accompanying music (drum). The next activities fall under the category of human responses in which the priest and devotees praise and invoke the presence of gods through dancing and singing. Prayers are also offered up through this dancing-singing phenomenon.

Lastly, there is music (drum), dance, and song to aid the devotee to reach spirit possession by the god or gods. This is a plan to allow practitioners to receive a message from a particular god. 

Ethnomusicologist Portia Maultsby, in her study of Africanisms in African Music suggests that …”black people consciously use their entire bodies in musical expression, and music and movement are conceived as a single unit.”36

This intersection of music and dance supports my concept that dance, drum, and song constitute the whole of the musical elements in African-based worship. It is important to note that all three components – dance, drum, and speech – communicate through language-like features. Many music traditions are associated with each religion. 37 Folklorist Alan Lomax, cited by Floyd, found parallels in the
…”extraordinary homogeneity of African song style….When most Africans sing they are non-tense, vocally; quite repetitious, textually; rather slurred in enunciation; lacking in embellishment and free rhythm; low on exclusive leadership; high on antiphony, chorally; especially high on overlapped antiphony; high on one-phrase melodies, on litany form; very cohesive, tonally and rhythmically in chorus; high on 

[page] 14

choral integration or part-singing; high on relaxed vocalizing; and highest on polyrhythmic (or hot) accompaniments.

This relaxed, cohesive, multileveled, yet leader-oriented style, is distinctly African. It dominates African song from the Cape of Good Hope to the Straits of Gibraltar and west into the American colonies, and is the source and symbol of African cultural homogeneity.” 38

Music of African Americans includes several characteristics of African music. For example, the whole body is used in musical experiences; call-and-response form is present, which allows for repetition; there is community participation in a musical event; change of leadership roles; and variation and sameness in rhythms. Ritual is always contextualized with music.39 

In West Africa, according to Hounnongan Agbegbe Guendehou of the Thron temple in Cotonou, Benin, “each ceremony has a specific music. Every ceremony has a specific dance. It is not the same dance and music for all ceremony. ”40

Two factors determine the music that is used during worship. On the one hand, the African gods are important as there are specific styles of music and instruments that are associated with the worship of a particular deity. On the other hand, the goals and cultural patterns of worshippers likewise contribute to the organization of music due to society’s perception of the divine, characteristic musical practices, and the summoning of the divine for the welfare of the whole community.

Clearly, there is a connection between African cosmologies and African American Christian worship. Within both religious practices, there is a strong belief in the supernatural and spirits; frequent contact with divinity as well as different methods of communicating with the divine”…

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EXCERPT #2

https://www.google.com/books/edition/Wade_in_the_Water/ogqfmZF3dJgC?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=ring+shout+altered+state+of+consciousness&pg=PA76&printsec=frontcover

Wade in the Water: The Wisdom of the Spirituals https://books.google.com › books

Arthur C. Jones · 2005 ·

[page 76]

City called Heaven
…In their singing and praying worshippers embraced selectively those aspects of Christianity that were in harmony with their intuitive African frame of reference: even when they lost knowledge of specific tribal beliefs and ceremonies, they maintained a basic African world view, which was difficult to eradicate.  One of the principal features of this world view was the necessity for direct communication with the divine spirit, often in the frenzy of spirit possession. Singing and dancing in the ring shout, participants entered into an altered state, much like their West African ancestors. Historian Margaret Washington Creel has described this phenomenon as it was experienced among the Gullah slave communities of South Carolina:
“The Gullah ring shout…involved an altered state of consciousness and had the attributes of “possession”. It represented either an unusual behavior, inspired and controlled by an outside agent, in this case the Holy Spirit, or the outside agent displaced the individual’s personality and acted in its stead. The background of the Gullah ring shout, a manifestation of possession trance, was West African in origin.”

The singing of spirituals in the sacred circle of the ring shout provided an ideal setting for the emergence of spirit possession.”…

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EXCERPT #3 

https://www.streetswing.com/histmain/z3ringshout.htm 
" Early in the United States the Baptist Church prohibited drumming and dancing which ruled out most of the religious dances of African decent. Dancing was defined by many things by the Baptist Church, primarily the crossing of ones feet (was considered unholy dancing.) Since the Ring Shout didn't generally use any musical instruments only a percussion of clapping and stomping or sometime a stick beating down on the floor and a "call and response' type of singing (shouting) all the while using counterclockwise dance-like movement. The Ring Shout usually occurred in a church after the formal worship, in "praise houses", Barns, or thanking God(Africans deity was Yoruba god Elegba, which later when converted to Christian slaves became Jesus) at the end of the day in the bush arbors or field. These generally lasted until a spiritual possession of "God" or "beloved ancestor"(a Sasa period) would be felt. Most Christian's frowned on this practice as heathen, but allowed it for various reasons.

The ring shout was first described in detail during the Civil War by outside observers in coastal regions of South Carolina and Georgia. The Shout was very popular in South Carolina, Texas, Georgia and Louisiana and its practice continued in those areas well into the twentieth century which eventually some say gave birth to a secular parody of the Ring Shout called the 'Walk-Around' in Minstrel Shows (Pattin' Juba dance is also connected to the Ring Shout). With a fresh arrival of slaves to the new world on a weekly basis, the slaves would be able to keep ties with their spiritual connections, dances and music, even if outlawed.

Up to 20% of the Africans brought to America were Muslims. Islam had established a presence along the West African coast long before the Portuguese introduced Christianity there... this leads us to the word shout which refers to the dance, not shouting verbally and is believed to be derived from the Afro-Arabic saut, referring to the counter-clockwise movement around the Kabaa in Mecca.

The Ring Shout utilizes the whole body (feet, arms, legs, Hips, belly, head, hands etc.) with the main focus being rhythms. The dancers begin by first walking in a 'congo pose' and one by one, sliding their feet as they move, shuffling round, one after the other in a ring (circle). The song is danced with a kinda shuffle step, while the hips would wiggle and sway while the shoulders were held stiff and various heel tapping and stamping, each doing their own improvisations. At the end of each stanza of the song the dancers stop short with a slight stamp on the last note, an then, putting the other foot forward, proceed through the next verse all with a style and grace, occasionally a dancer would enter the center of the ring. Due to many contrary movements in the dance there was a sort of jerking motion which agitated the entire shouter.

Birth Place: West Africa

Creation Date: 1700s?

Creator: None

Dance Type: Religious Dance"
-snip-
There is some disagreement as whether the word "shout" in ring shout actually derived from the Arabic word "saut" and what that Arabic word means.   

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EXCERPT #4

http://dancercitizen.org/issue-6/tamara-williams/ "Reviving Culture Through Ring Shout" by Tamara Williams [no date given; retrieved October 14, 2021]
"The Ring Shout.  What is it? It is an African American spiritual tradition many regarded as long lost and forgotten, but that manifests today in the black Baptist Church, and in a spirit that has been carried along through Methodist and other Protestant churches and praise houses—all of these bear the history evolved from the very first Ring Shouts. The ancestors brought to the United States during the Transatlantic Slave Trade used dance and music as a coping mechanism:  the original Ring Shouts were a mix of rich cultures, traditions, songs, and dances from various communities, a mix designed to create a new community within the violent New World. In Cuba, Trinidad, Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, and Jamaica, these traditions are closely identified with the Orishas (divine spirits of nature)

[…]

The spirit of Ring Shout is not only in the gospel churches of the United States’ south, but the same energy and culture can be found in the Shouting communities of Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Barbados, and more.  The memory holds thick.

[…]

I grew up a young girl in the Bible Belt of the United States attending church with my mother and grandmother. My grandmother's church was an old white building with wood floors and benches in the back woods of South Carolina. I recall every Sunday going and hearing the women’s feet patting on the wooden floor to the old hymns.

[…]

When I traveled to Trinidad, I realized how similar the movement vocabulary and patterns were to the “Holy Ghost” dancing that I observed as a young girl in my grandmother's church. The Shouting that occurs in Trinidad is closely aligned to the Yoruba Orisa (divine spirits) lineages and also has influences of Christianity.

Ring Shout is the earliest form of resistance that African Americans embraced in the United States. It is an African diaspora dance form, meaning that it is a dance and cultural form that was developed away from the continent of Africa, but created by the descendants of African people, with significant African influences. The African influences include polyrhythms, syncopation, movement aesthetics, songs, and artistic cultural practices. The Ring Shout is an amalgamation of traditions from the Yoruba, Akan, Bantu (Congo), Angola, Ewe and Fon people of West Africa and Central Africa. The Ring Shout’s resistance was applied to the inflictions of the state. The Ring Shout was practiced in the back woods, barns or cabins on the plantations, or in the slave quarters in urban areas, by the enslaved people. The tradition was practiced in the late evening/night hours to maintain its secrecy. In an era when the enslaved people received no time to properly mourn and/or bury the deceased, the Ring Shouts were performed as a ritual to honor the ancestors. The Ring Shout provided the suffering enslaved people unification and cultural fortification.

[…]

Practitioners of the Ring Shout sing and move around in a counterclockwise circle with movement gestures relating to the songs and rhythms present. The circle represents life energy and its infinite cycle, which may change in quality but is never broken. The counterclockwise direction in Ring Shout tradition honors the ancestors, since this direction specifically connects beings to the ancestral realm. This may be viewed by some as a way of reversing or traversing time in order to unite with spirits. This type of connectivity to divine spirits is rarely found within the linearity of western spiritual practices.

[…]

Since the drums were abolished during the majority of the Ring Shout era of slavery, wooden sticks played on wooden boards acted like the drum rhythm and call.6  The drum is the heartbeat. It has its own power of ase. The drum speaks and it calls upon the spirits. The drum itself is a powerful spirit. The ancestors hear the call of the drum and respond. Movements together as a congregation are key to reaching spiritual transcendence; whether in the form of rocking, swaying, or other movements. The counterclockwise circle of Ring Shout is a characteristic of African dance ceremonies that honored the deceased. The belief carried on into the Ring Shout tradition is that “The grave is the most sacred point upon which a person can take an oath or affirm that ‘life is a shared process with the dead below the river or the sea.’ ‘Drawing or singing a point’ on the ground summons the power of God and the ancestors.7 ” This summoning of power occurs in the movement of Ring Shout; it is in the feet. The shuffling of the feet on the ground and the movement of the torso above provides direct connection with the ancestors below. The energy that is generated from the friction of shuffling feet with the earth creates the foundation to directly communicate with God. Once the energy of the circle builds, the presence of Divine Spirits and the ancestors can be felt by the practitioners in the circle. The movers burst into sudden moments of trance, which can be signified by the movements of the person affected: these may include a dropping of the knees and torso, spinning, bouncing of the knees, shoulders and other parts of the body. Such movements would occur as the circle continued around the person in trance. “Iron pots were placed in the center of the circle, turned upside down to absorb the sounds of the dancing, singing and rhythms allowing the practioners to continue their ritual in secrecy.”  “The pots also focused the ancestral energy to the center of the circle and acted as a conduit to connect with those spirits.8 ” This aspect of the “shout” was removed later in the practice. It is my speculation that the increased presence of Christianity amongst the African Americans contributed to this change."....

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