Jun 4, 2021 Exhibitions People & Community This Is the Day, our newest focus exhibition, takes its name from a longstanding and likely familiar hymn sung on Sunday mornings in churches all across America. For those unfamiliar, the hymn speaks to the joy found in a new day and its accompanying potential. This is the day, this is the day. That the Lord has made, that the Lord has made. We will rejoice, we will rejoice, And be glad in it, and be glad in it. The intertwining of the exhibition title and this important song is no mere coincidence. This Is the Day―the exhibition―shines a light on the resilience of the Black church and the community it serves. Throughout American history, the Black church has adapted to serve its parishioners needs: it has been a refuge, a community center, a site for political organizing and, of course, a place for worship. And music is essential to the worship experience. In the development of This Is the Day, we asked the leaders of Black churches in our region to think about the religious music they turn to regularly. The result is this Spotify playlist: While listening to the playlist, learn about the songs selected and the Northwest Arkansans who chose them. Maranda Seawood, Director of Music and Arts St. James Missionary Baptist Church Lift Every Voice and Sing James Weldon Johnson A Change is Gonna Come Sam Cook Glory John Legend How I Got Over Mahalia Jackson The Selma March Grant Green Strange Fruit Billie Holiday Throughout history, Black churches have played a crucial role in their congregants’ struggle for freedom, including the civil rights movement of the 1950s and ‘60s. Freedom songs, also known as civil rights anthems, were taken from gospel, congregational hymns. “Only thing we had to do was change the lyrics to fit the occasion,” said SNCC Freedom singer Rutha Mae Harris. Songs provided a sense of safety and security even in the midst of quite dangerous moments. How I Got Over by Mahalia Jackson is one of six songs selected by Maranda Seawood, Director of Music and Arts at St. James Missionary Baptist Church that demonstrates the strength of this relationship. Tell me how we got over Lord Had a mighty hard time coming on over You know my soul look back and wonder How did we make it over Tell me how we got over Lord I’ve been falling and rising all these years But you know my soul look back and wonder How did I make it over Jackson performed How I Got Over at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. “You know my soul looks back in wonder, how I got over,” she sang, praising the heavens for allowing her people to make it this far, despite the struggle being far from over. Pastor Kristen Valley Fellowship of Champions Church Total Praise Every Praise Something About The Name Jesus Richard Smallwood Hezekiah Walker Kirk Franklin The Anthem This Is The Day Break Every Chain Todd Dulaney Fred Hammond Tasha Cobbs Alpha and Omega Balm in Gilead Let There Be Peace On Earth Israel & New Breed Karen Clark Sheard Ricky Dillard You Deserve It Your Great Name Great Are You Lord J.J. Hairston Todd Dulaney Todd Galberth I’m Good Alabaster Box It Keeps Happening Tim Bowman Jr. CeCe Winans Kiera Sheard-Kelly Let Us Worship Him Won’t He Do It Love Theory Yolanda Adams Koryn Hawthorne Kirk Franklin Nobody Like You Lord I Do Maranda Curtis John P. Kee Few hymns have assumed such an iconic status in the hearts of the Black church community in such a brief time as Richard Smallwood’s 1996 classic Total Praise. Lord, I will lift my eyes to the hills Knowing my help is coming from You Your peace You give me in time of the storm You are the source of my strength You are the strength of my life I lift my hands in total praise to You Despite, or perhaps because it was written during a low point in Smallwood’s life: “I felt left by God. I was trying to write a pity-party song, but God said, ‘I want your praise no matter what the situation you are in, good or bad.’” The song has provided comfort for millions. In the 25 years since its release, Total Praise has been performed for Pope Francis; the song was used by the choir of Emanuel A.M.E. Church to begin its first service after the Charleston shooting that took the lives of nine church members and was also requested for the funeral of a child killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, in addition to being sung by countless church choirs across the country during normal Sunday worship services. Smallwood’s successful blending of gospel and classical music exemplifies another tenant of Black sacred music: captivation of a broad audience and influence for almost every genre of music. His songs have been recorded by non-gospel artists, including Destiny’s Child and Whitney Houston, and have been translated into numerous other languages, including Hebrew, Korean, and German. David and Aleachia Gunn, Pastors Zion Church of Northwest Arkansas You Know My Name Fill Me Up Break Every Chain Gracefully Broken You’re Bigger than the Universe All songs by Tasha Cobbs Leonard When asked about the songs they turn to time and again, David and Aleachia Gunn, pastors of Zion Church of Northwest Arkansas, included only one artist, Tasha Cobbs Leonard. Named Billboard’s artist of the decade (2010 – 2020), the Grammy award-winning artist is known as one of the best gospel singers recording today. Leonard considers herself a communicator above all. In addition to a successful recording career, she has spent the last year trying to grow a church of her own, virtually of course. She and the Gunn family share this unique obstacle. Zion Church of Northwest Arkansas, which opened its doors relatively recently, has been trying to grow its presence almost exclusively online for over a year. Perhaps fittingly, the Gunns chose You Know My Name, a song that according to Leonard talks about how God knows the plans He has for you. No fire can burn me No battle can turn me No mountain can stop me All because (you hold my hand) Oh and I’m walking, yeah, in your victory Cause your power, it lives within me No giant can defeat me You hold my hand “Sometimes people will try and speak things over you that God did not design for your life; and no matter what they’ve said about you, He knows who He called you to be and what your purpose is on Earth,” she said. Written by Brittany Johnson, interpretation specialist, Crystal Bridges.