Abolitionist Hymnal and Juneteenth

June 19 is a day set aside to celebrate freedom — specifically the freedom from slavery. On this date in various communities around the country there are Juneteenth celebrations. I Googled “Juneteenth” and looked for “images” and found some lovely art that has been created to publicize these events.

For those of us who need a refocused history lesson (I’m raising my hand to proclaim that I was not taught this in school that I can remember), here are some of the events upon which Juneteenth was erected as a point of remembrance and honor.

–Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862.

–The Proclamation was to go into effect nationally on January 1, 1863

–Texas, as a part of the Confederacy, was resistant to the Emancipation Proclamation, and though slavery was very prevalent in East Texas, it was not as common in the Western areas of Texas, particularly the Hill Country, where most German-Americans were opposed to the practice.

June 18, 1865 is the day Union General Gordon Granger and 2,000 federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to take possession of the state and enforce the emancipation of its slaves.

–On June 19, 1865, legend has it while standing on the balcony of Galveston’s Ashton Villa, Granger read the contents of “General Order No. 3”

The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.

I suppose you know that the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t end slavery. Far too many of the cracks and crevices of humanity are filled with those who have been enslaved. Purchased like a product. Controlled as if owned. Used, abused, manipulated, dehumanized, discarded.

The abolitionist movements continue. It is one of the things the Church must do as the body of Christ whose holy job description included declaring freedom to the captives. One of the organizations who I have great respect for and which I trust is the International Justice Mission (IJM for short). If you want to learn more about this topic and find practical ways to be involved in bringing freedom, they’re a great place to start.

And in other ways, Wycliffe is involved in bringing freedom, but that is a story for another day.

A story that is for today is one about a new music project that I’m watching with some anticipation by Carl Thomas Gladstone: The Abolitionist Hymnal. I’ve downloaded a few tracks from NoiseTrade recently. When I then followed links to the website (one click away via the link above) I found this rather cool idea/opportunity for musicians to contribute to the full album.


For those of you with an interest in remixing or rerecording these songs for inclusion in a companion album to the full release, please click the SoundCloud submission button to join our moderated group for developing those tracks.  Since this is a project that should connect with as many communities as possible, we want to encourage the process of taking these songs and making them your own for growing abolitionists in your own back yard.  Join the fight!

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