Staff Blog: Natasha’s Notes, December 2022

When The Spirit Says Do

If you attended last week’s Fall All Music Sunday, you experienced the singing, movement, and dancing that happened as we sang -When The Spirit Says Do. Also shared was the context and acknowledgment of the musical heritage of this musical offering. Contextualizing and acknowledging the Spirituals that we sing is an essential responsibility. This genre of music was born out of an experience of extraordinary human suffering in a time of great injustice.

On November 19th, I attended a brilliant workshop on the meaning, influence, structure, and context of Negro spirituals. Through this workshop, I discovered a first-person account that inspiringly fit our musical offering – “Somebody would start humming an old hymn, and then the next-door neighbor would pick it up. In this way, it would finally get around to every house, and then the music started. Soon everybody would be gathered together, and such singing! It wouldn’t be long before some of the slaves got happy and started shouting. Many of them got converted at such meetings. There was so much fire among them when they started to praying and a shouting, slapping and shaking hands and shedding briny tears, something had to move.”

In this music, we witness the spirit of a people struggling to be free and a community moving to the rhythm of life. Spirituals embody the power of hope.


Through UUCCH’s Spirituals Program, we make a connection between the Spirituals that we sing, their history, and our hope for the future. In the absence of being able to pay royalties directly to the creators or their estates, we honor and value those upholding musical and heritage-based traditions for others to experience by giving a monetary donation to a beneficiary every time we sing a spiritual in Sunday morning worship.

This year’s beneficiary is The Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble in Camden, NJ.

 If you would like to know how to make a donation or learn more about our Spirituals Program, please reach out at