I want to celebrate the incredible gift of music that African Americans gave to the church and to the whole world. It is amazing that these people, many of them enslaved by Christian people, saw beyond their owners hypocrisy and embraced the real Jesus. I believe that these miracle songs are an example of how God can take our deepest pain and, in response to our faith, create something beautiful.
Well-known calligrapher Timothy Botts offers these words about what shaped his work in Bound For Glory: Celebrating The Gift of African American Spirituals Through Expressive Calligraphy (Tyndale, 2011). He has created 52 rich visual meditations on well-loved spirituals like O Happy Day, Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child, Go Tell It On The Mountain and His Eye Is On The Sparrow. Each song is given a two-page spread: on one page, Botts’ shimmering artwork, on the other, lyrics, small images, a brief meditation and a passage of Scripture. Author Patricia Raybon penned many of the meditations in this book. Her words are prayer and preaching, and each one captures the essence of the song’s meaning. She exposes the comfort in the lament Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen:
Why hide / When God knows everything about you / Anyway? / So He understands / Deep hurt / And a bruised body / And the pain of hunger and the sting of sorrow when / folks betray you and leave you / Alone in the world to die / And here’s the reason He knows: / He’s been there, too.
These songs are born out of pain, injustice, loss, hope, and love. They grew out of a past filled with injustice, but they are as fresh as this morning’s news, and will be sung long after we are in glory. Bound For Glory honors the past, present and future of these well-known spiritual songs. The book creates music for the eyes with the gorgeous visuals, and music for the soul with thoughtful meditations. It would make a wonderful gift for a musician or a friend in need of a voice of hope. Recommended.
Tyndale provided me with a review copy of this book. (Thanks, Tyndale!)