STLT#30, Over My Head

A song that evokes memories..

Over my head I hear music in the air.
Over my head I hear music in the air.
Over my head I hear music in the air.
There must be a God somewhere.

Over my head I hear singing in the air…

Over my head I see trouble in the air…

Over my head I feel gladness in the air …

Over my head I see angels in the air …

This hymn. Feeling all the feelings, thinking all the thoughts, and wishing I had a better memory.

From a purely music and lyrics standpoint, this gets right to my heart, that part of my soul that wonders about God, that part of my spirit that feels lonely and afraid. Even when I’m feeling reasonably okay, this one cuts through all the noise to bring me voice for my fears and comfort for my soul.

And I am just a middle aged white woman in the 21st century. I cannot imagine what this song meant to the enslaved Africans who sang it in the fields, or the black Americans in the crosshairs of Jim Crow and the Civil Rights movement. For them – I cannot imagine how meaningful a song like this must be, how much hope it must bring.

A few years ago, I remember the amazing songstress, scholar, and friend Kim Harris telling a story about this song, about how a young girl in the civil rights era South sang it in church while the cops were trying to come in. In my incredibly faulty memory, that girl is Bernice Johnson Reagon, founder of Sweet Honey in the Rock, but the details are gone and I can’t trust this memory of a song. I am hopeful that when I ping Kim on Facebook, she’ll be able to fill in the details.

But I bring it up because of this song’s power to signal, to comfort, to communicate. Even to a middle aged white woman, for whom this song was never meant to be.

That’s the power of music.

And it is a gift.

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