Karaoke Hymn Singing at Bridge Street, Brooklyn, New York
In an effort to revive hymn singing in the local church, Bridge Street AME Church in Brooklyn, New York, has launched a series of year-long initiatives to bring congregants together to learn, sing, meditate, and pray on the lyrics of hymns. On Saturday, the Bridgecare Class Leaders Ministry hosted a Karaoke Hymn Sing where members of the church came together for food, fun, and fellowship around hymn singing. Over 15 people bolstered enough courage to sing hymns like “Blessed Assurance,” “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” “We’ve Come this Far by Faith,” “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” “Precious Lord, Take My Hand,” “Time is Filled with Swift Transition,” and “I Won’t Complain.” Several of the hymns were sung by duets and quartets.
Each month on the second, third, and fourth Sundays, the historical background of the hymns is taught during corporate prayer. This information is coupled with a prayer discipline such as theological reflection and meditation on the scriptures that shape the lyrics, Taize, Lectio Divina, or journaling. By engaging the hymns in this nature, our hope is to teach congregants how to listen for scriptural texts that form our faith doctrines in order to mature and grow in their faith. Romans 10:17 says, “So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.”
Our upcoming project events include An Afternoon Conversation on “Understanding Hymn Structure” facilitated by Nerva Altino, director of music administration at Bridge Street AME Church. We will also continue Praying the Hymns on selected Sundays.
This project, “Wesleyan Hymnody in the African Methodist Episcopal Tradition: Reclaiming Our Faith, Renewing Our Worship” is made possible through the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with funds provided by the Lilly Endowment Inc. DeVasha Knight is the project director, Nerva Altinois is the director of music administration, the Rev. Valerie E. Cousin is the executive minister, and the Rev. David B. Cousin, Sr. is the pastor. For more information about the Calvin Grant Program, go to www.calvin.edu/grants.