Saturday, December 15, 2012

Langston Hughes "Black Nativity" (song videos)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part II of a two part series on Langston Hughes' Christmas play "Black Nativity".

Part II of this series features nine videos of songs that have been featured in a production of Black Nativity. Information about the song's composers and links to those songs lyrics are presented for some of these songs.

This post also includes a bonus video of a song that I've heard in productions of "Black Nativity", although I don't have any video of those productions.

Click for Part I of this series.

Part I of this series provides historical information, reviews, and comments about various "Black Nativity" based productions.

The content of this post is presented for historical, religious, entertainment, and aesthetic reasons.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

These videos are presented in no particular order.

Video #1: Black Nativity - Holy

Robertjohnconnor,Uploaded on Dec 31, 2008

Andrea Connor leads a power packed cast of Trinity Entertainment Group's production of Black Nativity in Las Vegas.
I'm not sure who composed this song. It may be the same song as Don Moen - "Worthy, You Are Worthy". Lyrics for that song can be found at

Your help would be appreciated in verifying or identifying the composer of this song & a link to the song's lyrics.

Video #2: Black Nativity - Mary Did You Know

robertjohnconnor, Uploaded on Jan 3, 2009

Ken Young and Andrea Connor perform Mary Did You Know in Trinity Entertainment Group's Black Nativity.

"In 1984, Lowry wrote the lyrics to the song "Mary, Did You Know?" He was asked to write a script for a church Christmas play. Lowry wrote a series of questions that he would like to ask Mary, the mother of Jesus. These questions were used in between the scenes of the play. Over the next decade, Lowry tried to find the music that would complete the song. Twelve years after writing the lyrics, musician and songwriter Buddy Greene wrote the music to the song. The Christmas play script became the song.

The song has become a popular Christmas song."
Click for the lyrics to this song.

Video #3: STG Presents The Black Nativity 2011 @ the Moore Theatre [song- "In The Sanctuary"]

Seattletheatregroup, Uploaded on May 10, 2011

STG presents Intiman's BLACK NATIVITY at The Moore Theatre in Seattle on Thursday, December 8 -- Saturday, December 24, 2011. [Seattle, Washington]

"In The Sanctuary" was composed in 2001 by Kurt Carr. Click for the lyrics to this song.
Click for a pancocojams post about the praise song "In The Sanctuary".

Video #4: Black Nativity-My Love-My Life-My All

robertjohnconnor, Uploaded on Dec 31, 2008 [Las Vegas, Nevada]

The cast of Trinity Entertainment Group's Black Nativity sing Kirk Franklin's My Life, My Love, My All.

Click,-my-life,-my-all-lyrics.html for lyrics to "My Life, My Love, My All."

Video #5: The Black Nativity – Magnify The Lord

MrPolarbeardavid, Uploaded on Dec 11, 2009

"The Black Nativity" song-"Magnify the Lord"
Being performed at the H Street Theater
Dec 10-Jan 3, 2010 [Washington, D.C.]
I’m not sure who wrote this song. Your help identifying this song's composer and a link to the lyrics for this song will be greatly appreciated.

Video #6: Black Nativity Opening Number [O Sifuni Mungu]

fookychooch, Uploaded on Dec 22, 2008
I believe that this production company is Kenny Leon's True Colors Theater Company, Atlanta, Georgia.
This is the only "Black Nativity" video that I found to date which features an African song.

According to, [The words] "Sifu Mungu"
and "O sifuni Mungu" ... essentially [mean] "praise God (the Lord).

The original English text is the hymn "All Creatures of Our God
and King" which is a poetic paraphrase of the Canticle of the Creatures, by St. Francis of Assisi."
English & Swahili lyrics to this Swahili song can be found on that website and can also be found at

Example #7: Video clip from the 2009 NCBRC Black Nativity [various songs]

NCBlackRepertoryCo, Uploaded on Oct 14, 2010

Black Nativity: Directed and Choreographed by Mabel P. Robinson
Music Director: Tony Gillion
Scenography: Arthur M. Reese
Costume Design: Frenchie La'Verne
NCBRC - North Carolina Black Repertory Company

Among the songs that were included in this clip, I recognized the traditional Black Spiritual "Oh What A Pretty Little Baby". The lyrics to that song can be found ="

I also recognized the traditional Black Spiritual "Go Tell It On The Mountain". The lyrics to that song can be found at

This company also sung the song "Oh Mary Did You Know". Information about that song is presented above.
Information about & links to these songs would be greatly appreciated.

Video #8: Excerpts from Black Nativity

Pspellbinder, Uploaded on Dec 20, 2010
Cicely Tyson Community School of Performing and Fine Arts presented Langston Hughes' "Black Nativity," as adapted by Mustapha Williams. These excerpts are from a performance given on 12/19/10, at which Cicely Tyson was an honored guest. She makes a brief speech at the end of the video. For more photos and information, go to:
More than any other video in this post, the songs performed by this cast conforms to the description of "Black Nativity" that was given in that play's Wikipedia page: the "Black Nativity" play "features traditional Christmas carols sung in gospel style with a few songs created specifically for the show."

The following traditional Christmas carols were sung in this video clip: "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen", "O Holy Night", and "Joy To The World". In this video clip the cast also sung one Black Christmas Spiritual "Go Tell It On The Mountain" and two songs in this video clip that I didn't recognize whose titles may be "Glory To God In The Highest" and "Follow The Star Of Bethlehem".

Another difference between this video clip and other featured videos of "Black Nativity" productions presented in this post was the lack of any dance performances and the presence of orchestra and string ensembles, including an instrumental only performance. However, the cast list found in the hyperlink for that school includes a list of dancers, and the photographs of the play include ballet dancers in standard white ballet costumes.

Video #9: Black Nativity "Oh Holy Night"

Ladyofdance1, Uploaded on Dec 24, 2010

The 2010 Black Nativity Play in Cleveland, OH at the historic Karamu Theater. Black Nativity is the play by renowned artist Langston Hughes who took residence at Karamu.
Watch these Angels take wings!

Similar to Video #8, this video also shows dancers performing ballet to the accompaniment of the traditional Christmas carol "O Holy Night". However, these dancers aren't wearing traditional ballet costumes.
Editorial comment:
Although I've attended a "Black Nativity" play in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (in either 2004 or 2007) that included one ballet performance, African dancing, and Modern dancing with R&B/Hip-Hop moves constituted the bulk of the dancing for that production as they appear to do for most "Black Nativity" productions from at least the late 1990s to date.

I wonder whether the early productions of "Black Nativity" included African dancing and/or Modern dancing. If not, I wonder when those styles of dancing began to predominate "Black Nativity productions.

Kirk Franklin - Precious Lamb Of God

Uploaded on Jul 10, 2009

Kirk Franklin - Precious Lamb Of God

Kirk Franklin's 1995 Gospel song "Now Behold The Lamb" which he composed in 1995 was featured in each of the "Black Nativity" Productions that I attended in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Those productions were sponsored by The Shona Sharif African Drum and Dance Ensemble. The 2012 production of "Nativity: A Christmas Gift" is also sponsored by that same company.

Unfortunately, because filming was prohibited, there are no videos of those productions. My thanks to that company for introducing me and many others to "Black Nativity".
Click for lyrics to this song.

Thanks to Langston Hughes for writing the "Black Nativity" song/play. Thanks to all those whose articles are featured in this post. Thanks to all those affiliated with "Black Nativity" productions.

Thank you for visiting pancocojams.

Viewer comments are welcome.

1 comment:

  1. I wonder when African drumming and African dancing were including in the productions of Langston Hughes' "Black Nativity".

    I also wonder when the cast of "Black Nativity" began to wear West African attire in Act I of that play as they now appear to do in all of the "Black Nativity" productions I've seen in person and viewed in YouTube videos.

    I'd love to "hear from" from anyone about these questions and about other ways that productions of Langston Hughes' "Black Nativity" in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s may differ from the productions of "Black Nativity" now.