The 137th Psalm asks the question “how can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land.” That is the history of Gospel music in America. Blending African rhythms, European hymnody, blues cadences, and the sorrow and joy of the African American experience. Gospel music declares the complex narrative of human experience containing both sorrow and joy. This music in the words of the theologian Howard Thurman carries the mystery of the human experience. It is this mystery of joy and sorrow, hope and despair, oppression and deliverance that sustained a people who have known the bitterness of life. Though gospel music is born out of the African American experience, its message is universal. It is this universal message that is sung weekly by the Georgetown University Gospel Choir.
Under the leadership of stellar award winning director Phil Carter, The Georgetown University Gospel Choir is a Georgetown treasure. This charismatic and diverse group of 35 students with exuberance, grace, and soul lead the congregation each week at the 7pm Protestant Service in St. Williams Chapel in singing praises to God.
On November 15, 2016 they brought the musical styling of the gospel music tradition to Lohrfink auditorium for a sacred service of song. With over one hundred in attendance, the liturgical dancers of the choir opened with a traditional spiritual. With tambourines swinging and dresses twirling the liturgical dancers of the Gospel Choir invoked the presence of the spirit. The rhythmic sounds of percussion, hand clapping, and great joy soon followed as the choir sang selection after selection. In one rousing song entitled “Hello God” the choir had the entire congregation on their feet, swaying, waving their hands, and singing! Through their singing, the Gospel Choir presented to the Georgetown community a message of hope and liberation to an interracial, interfaith, and intercultural community. It is through the commitment of the students of the Gospel Choir that the gospel tradition declaring the complexity of the human experience and the sustaining power of God is presented to a new generation.
Written by Reverend Brandon Harris, Protestant Chaplain to the Law Center and Main Campus. Rev. Harris is also a Chaplain-in-Residence in VCE at Georgetown University.