Nobody Knows

Today, I’m sharing an exhilarating piece I heard for the first time this morning.

As followers of this blog know, I gain a lot of my new-to-me music through Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour on BBC 6 Music, where the host and lead singer of the British band Elbow shares his musical taste, history bits by one of his sisters (the Beckapedia), songs that listeners have recommended to him, other regular featurettes and, since the pandemic, diary entries from his siblings. (Some of those entries have been amusing, and one or two brought me to tears with their obvious familial affection and missing each other in lockdown.)

While most of the program is what I’d describe as “thoughtful rock” oriented, Garvey hosts an eclectic program that sometimes includes classical pieces and, this past Sunday, a spiritual. (I’ve finally caught up on the archives of the program, finishing this past week’s program today. Now I have to wait all the way to Sunday for more…)

“Nobody Knows” sets to full band and choir — and with expanded lyrics — the famous Black American spiritual song, “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen,” which was written in the time of slavery but published much later (1867).

I’ve only witnessed spirituals being sung a few times in my life; once, at a memorial service. Each time, I have been mesmerized by the soulful singing, and the hope and joy the sounds bring to any situation. The communal aspect of this singing style surely must have been part of the reason for their historical adoption. The genre seems to help draw people out of desolation, just by singing as a massed group about the “troubles” they are enduring. It is a type of music that makes the hairs stand up on my arms and legs!

Many years ago, a former superior of mine told me about his spiritual songs experience when he was an official guest at a Black History Month event here in Winnipeg, Canada. He was generally conservative in his manner, but I could see he had been affected when he talked so enthusiastically about it… so much so that I wished I too had been there!

I’m grateful to have heard the song and to have this opportunity to share it with you here.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy. (And if you enjoyed this post, please click the “like” button or, better yet, leave a comment to tell me about your favourite spirituals — I’d love to hear from you and learn of some more examples from this most stirring style of music!)

Here is the audio for the song from the Pastor T.L. Barrett and the Youth for Christ Choir YouTube topic channel. Please remember to click on “thumbs-up” on the video if you appreciated the artists’ work.

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