This is an amazing alleluia that comes out of the Muscogee Creek hymn tradition – which appears to emerge from the congregational line singing tradition.
In a 2014 story on All Things Considered, Dr. Hugh Foley, a fine arts instructor and Native American history professor at Rogers State University in Claremore, OK, explains more about this unexplored tradition:
“We’re talking about a pre-removal music that happened in the early 1800’s and was a combination of African spirituals, Muscogee words and perhaps some influences from their ceremonial songs and then all that being started by the Scottish missionaries who bring in Christianity and their own singing style. All three of those merge into what we now know as Muscogee Creek hymns which are a unique musical product in American and world music history.”
In some ways, this is a continuation of the story that I started thinking about when I heard that great On Being interview with Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn, when she spoke about the origins of the banjo. Here too is a story of people coming together out of heartbreak and loss and violence and still finding connection. Is it any wonder the music of America is so rich?
Listen to the entire story here.
And.. enjoy a recording of this wonderful piece here.
I don’t have much more to say. I love this, and I love learning more about the Muscogee Creek hymn tradition. What a blessing to have this chance to dig deeper.