From Markus Grae-Hauck, Music Director
Oh, freedom, oh, freedom… Oh, freedom over me…And before I’d be a slave…I’d be buried in my grave
And go home to my God…And be free…
These are the words from the first verse of “Oh, Freedom” (#156 in the grey hymnal). We sang this as the closing hymn on a Sunday morning this past September. After the service, an African-American member of the congregation came up to talk to me. She told me that she really appreciated our music ministry and was grateful for what we provided. “But I need to tell you something,” she said. “‘Oh, Freedom’ is a song that came out of pain and suffering. If you play it upbeat, you are dishonoring that history.”
In the past several months, our Music Committee has been discussing ways to avoid misappropriating music, and to bring more awareness to the context of the songs we sing. On a recent Sunday, during the Time for All Ages, members of the Committee talked about “Oh, Freedom,” the song’s history and meaning. They are planning to lead an entire service later this year where we will explore this topic more in depth.
People of color in our society experience discrimination, racism, and micro-aggressions. It is my hope that we as a community will develop to the point where those egregious wrongs are no longer part of our congregational and worship culture.
Let me conclude by saying: Thank you. Thank you for helping me, and us, understand where we are doing good and where we are causing pain. Thank you for staying, and for sharing your hurt, and for believing that we will, one day, be better.