Bill Menke's BLOG Page: Justice and Commiphora Opobalsamum
This is what the Lord says ...
I sang the tenor solo in the African-American Spiritual There is a Balm in Gilead last week. Its a short but awsome piece of music, communicating (at least to me) a feeling of poignant melancoly, hopeful but tentative. I was at first suprised that such a minor biblical reference would find its way into folk music. Balm of Gilead is mentioned just once in the Bible, toward the end of a longish passage in the Book of Jeremiah. But upon reflection, I can see that the subject of that whole book is the yearning for the deliverance from oppression. So Jeremiah's poetry must have meant a lot to the African-American slave who composed the song. Perhaps the first singer knew - unlike me - every word, by heart.