Edited by Azizi Powell
This post provides information about praise break chants and music that are referred to "War Cry".
The content of this post is presented for folkloric, cultural, religious, and aesthetic purposes.
All copyrights remain with their owners.
Thanks to Bishop Kenneth H. Moales, Sr. for creating and popularizing "War Cries". Thanks also to all those who are featured in these videos and the publishers of these examples on YouTube. And thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.
INFORMATION ABOUT "WAR CRIES"
Christian "War Cries" are chants with uptempo, "hot" percussive music that is sung and played for "praise breaks". The "War Cry" is most closely associated with Apostolic Bishop Kenneth H. Moales, Sr. who spread his particular rendition of that chant throughout African American Apostolic and Pentecostal congregations as well as other Black and non-Black Christian congregations in the United States.
Here's my approximation of the standard vocalization for Bishop Moales' "War Cry":
"wooh wooh wooh wooooh
wooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh oooooh"
The leader of the chant testifies, sometimes in a call & response manner. The response that the choir sings to the leader's call is "We got the victory". [Example #1 below]
Bishop Moales also popularized his "Yes War Cry" that consists of repeating the word "Yes" instead of the "wooh" or "ooh" vocalizations. [Example #2 below]
In contrast, Micah Sampley's 2005 "War Cry" contains verses rather than repeated "wooh wooh wooh wooooh" vocalizations. [Example #5 below]
The 2011 "War Cry" record by "Ricky Dillard & New G's https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rohTqr0ct_o
[Example #7 below] closely follows the "original" War Cry chant by Bishop Moales.
It appears that most congregations use Bishop Moales' vocalization for "War Cry". However, some renditions are slightly different. For example, a rendition of "War Cry" by Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church in Ft. Washington, Maryland uses the now standard "wooh wooh" chant, but also includes this call & response portion:
I got it
[I got it]
I got it
[I got it]
That rendition of "War Cry" [Example #4 below] also differs from the now standard Bishop Moales' "War Cry" by having a snippet of the Gospel song "We've Got The Victory" at the end of its chant.
THE PURPOSE OF THE PRAISE BREAK WAR CRY
"War Cries" are part of Apostolic and Pentecostal tradition of "praise breaks". The purpose of praise breaks are to help bring down the Holy Spirit so that worshippers praise God by doing the Holy dance ("shout", "get happy", "get your praise on", "cut a step"), by speaking in tongues, and in other ways.
Here's an excerpt from a book about the Pentecostal denomination that describes "praise breaks" although it doesn't use that term:
Excerpt: "The Special Language of Pentacostalism [Pentecostalism]" from Elaine J. Lawless, God's Peculiar People University Press of Kentucky, 1988 http://www.folkstreams.net/context,104
"In a typical Pentecostal church service several activities are common, all of which are geared toward helping the group members get happy or get a blessing, which refers to states where uninhibited behaviors such as crying, dancing in the spirit (in possession), jerks, tongue-speaking, and shouting can be exhibited. Shouting can take various forms, from shrieking to crying to speaking in tongues. It is viewed as a supranormal utterance, and, like spirit dancing, cannot be controlled by the individual. This marks the distinction between such behaviors as secular activities and as sacred activities performed in the context of the church service. Under the power of the spirit of God, the saints are not responsible for their acts; performed by choice in the context of the “world.” The same acts become desecrated. Participation in congregational singing, dancing, shouting, praying, and tongue-speaking is strongly encouraged; saints long to see the house on fire for God, that is, all members actively involved in exalting God and invoking the spirit to move among the members.
The bold font is part of the original passage.
Referring to this chant & music as a "war cry" follows the Christian conceptualization of the devil being in constant warfare with Christians. People who are sanctified are considered to be "soldiers" who are "on the battlefied" for the Lord.
It's important to emphasize that "War Cries" are the opposite of plaintive or wailing vocalizations. "War Cries" are joyous, victorious praise giving to God.
Here are several comments from videos' discussion threads that illustrate these points:
"Bless the HOLY FATHER we all need to go to WAR with the DEVIL ALL THE TIME"
-Loretta Fleming, 2011, "Ricky Dillard & The New G - War Cry video"
"It's Time For War. I DECLARE war!!! Satan, we come armed & ready to tear your kingdom down!!! Soldiers in God's army on the battlefield for our LORD!!! Go ahead Ricky Dillard & New G...get your praise on!!!!"
-Sylvia M. Hubbard, 2012, "Ricky Dillard & The New G - War Cry video"
"Love this song. I'm a warrior in the army of the Lord. I was getting my praise on the entire song !"
-sjett95, 2015 - "This Is A War Cry Calling All Of The Warriors ♪Micah Stampley♪", https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOC2vR9nxhM
"[Micah Stampley's] War Cry is the type of praise song that will get you up on your feet and make you feel like you are right there in the choir. The tempo is funky and upbeat and Stampley's voice is reminescent of Donnie McClurkin's in pitch as he actually demonstrates a high pitched war cry several times during the song. The chorus will have you repeating "This is the war cry...of the warriors...pick up your weapons: fight, fight! This is the war cry, of the warriors, pick up your weapons, fight, fight! This is the war cryyyyyyy...of the warriooooooorrrrss..."
- Beverly, "A Refreshing Addition to the Gospel Tradition", on April 3, 2005, http://www.amazon.com/Songbook-Micah-MICAH-STAMPLEY/dp/B0007VF29Q
Now that's what I am talking about praising God !! You better know when the water is troubled to just dive in !!!! The devil is defeated and "GOD is EXALTED"". I got my praise on right here with yall like I was right there with you all !!! Glory, glory, glory !!!
-TheLADYANGELWINGS, [Example #5, "COGIC "WIC" Praise Break/War Cry", https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3NuGb-DfXw]
"how is this a WAR cry?"
-carter murphy, 2012 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Me3CWI6iR6U [Example #1 below]
in reply to carter murphy
"A cry for spiritual warfare, when the praise would muster up and they will use it against the enemy. Israel done this many a times before they battled, they would give a great shout of victory before they won the battle. That's what happened when Joshua led them to Jericho and their war cry tore down the walls. But you have to be sanctified in youur shout because Israel also lost the battle because they shout wasn't sanctified. BE SANCTIFIED IN YOU SHOUT, that's all I'm saying!"
-C.L. Banks, 2013 [Example #1 below]
"The war cry is the cry of Victory among the saints of GOD. It's war against the enemy. When you have been baptized in Jesus name and filled with the holyghost according to Acts 2:38 the devil lose you."
-Meyouna Johnson, 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uu5qh71ar8U "War Cry" [Example #4, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uu5qh71ar8U
"Okay!!!!! I NEED me a church like this honey!!! Thats some old school praising!!! The energy!!! I need that in my life!!! My Goodness!!! Those people were shouting for their lives!! Amen!"
-fkn02, 2011, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3NuGb-DfXw "COGIC "WIC" Praise Break/War Cry", [Example #4 below]
WHEN WAS THE WAR CRY THAT IS ASSOCIATED WITH BISHOP MOALES CREATED
Bishop Kenneth H. Moales' "War Cry" reminds me of clips of 19th century African American field hollers. It's possible that Bishop Moales might have popularized the Praise Break War Cry based on his memories of old time Black religious services.
A commenter on a discussion thread for a "War Cry" video wrote:
"To be honest the war cry is just a remake of the old times when they did this war cry wayy back. nobody made it they remade it into something more of the dayss now thts all"
- Skyler Hardy, 2012, "Ricky Dillard & New G - "War Cry" " [Example #7 below]
And a commenter on another discussion thread for a "War Cry" video wrote:
"That's bishop all the way, I remember him when I live in baltimore, md. We visit his church 1988 and he was doing the same praise dance then, he will make you won't dance !!!!!!!!!"
-Othinell Jenkins, Jr, 2010, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzorD7B_vyY "Bishop Kenneth H. Moales, Sr. leads The YES War Cry" [Example #2 below]
Another commenter on a discussion thread for yet another "War Cry" video wrote:
"YESSSSS! Bishop Kenneth H Moales Sr. started this and it has traveled throughout the Body of Christ Nationwide.:
-Frankie T., 2009
Most "War Cry" videos were posted to YouTube in 2009. As noted earlier, Micah Stampley's " This Is A War Cry Calling All Of The Warriors" song was recorded in 2005. A recording of "War Cry" led by Bishop Moales, Sr. was released January 4, 2011 -after Bishop Moales, Sr's death. That album Greater Mount Calvary Live As Told By The Music Ministry was recorded when Bishop Moales' visited that church. "Mount Calvary church is located in Washington DC. Bishop Moales' church was in Bridgeport, Conneticut. A video of "War Cry" that was led by a co-pastor of Mount Calvary church was published on YouTube in 2009 and is given below as Example #3.
Example #1: Bishop Moales Leads the War Cry!!
havinastroke, Uploaded on Jul 18, 2010
Bishop Kenneth Moales Taking the Saints In with the War Cry!!
Example #2: Bishop Kenneth H. Moales, Sr. leads The YES War Cry
Joshua Brown, Uploaded on May 4, 2010
Great Uncle does it again! Bishop Kenneth H. Moales Sr. leads Greater Mount Calvary into a YES War Cry for our 44th church anniversary.
Example #3: CALVARY WAR CRY
Byron Phillips Uploaded on May 10, 2009
SING VOICES OF CALVARY
Example #4: War Cry
Embedding disabled by request
Uploaded on Jul 5, 2009
[Ebenezer AME church in Ft. Washington, Maryland]
Example #5: COGIC "WIC" Praise Break/War Cry
cogicminister2, Published on Jun 7, 2012
Tuesday Night Praise Break At The 2012 COGIC Women's International Convention/Crusade At The Georgia World Congress Center In Atlanta,GA
Example #6: This Is A War Cry Calling All Of The Warriors ♪Micah Stampley♪
Praise & Worship Songs, Published on Mar 8, 2012
Example #7: Ricky Dillard & New G "War Cry"
SALLEvision, uploaded on May 18, 2011
Praise Break from Ricky Dillard & New G latest DVD "Keep Living."
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