The faithful came from New Jersey, Philadelphia and Delaware to praise the Lord through song at the first Tri-State Catholic Gospel Concert, held Feb. 11 at the Rutgers Camden-Gordon Theatre. The joyful and exuberant singing came from three Catholic choirs from three states and to share their gifts of black sacred song.
Our own Bishop Dennis Sullivan welcomed and blessed the gathering. James Andrews, director of Black Catholics and Cultural Diversity, was our master of ceremonies and host for the event.
Sister Thea Bowman writes in the introductory of “Lead Me Guide Me,” “Black sacred song — old or new, folk or composed, rural or urban, traditional or contemporary — is in a very real sense, the song of the people.”
The Diocese of Camden Gospel Choir — God’s Perfect Harmony, with members from Saint Bartholomew Church Adult and Youth Choirs — opened the concert by inviting the audience to sing along with “Here I Am Lord” under the direction of Tonya Dorsey. A Christian rapper and soloist, singing “Sometimes I feel like a Motherless Child,” let us experience the old with the new.
Next came the Wilmington Mass Gospel Choir with “How Great Thou Art” under the direction of Brenda Burns. The Philadelphia Mass Catholic Choir took the stage last, with members from all three states, under the direction of Kenny Arrington. The finale featured all three choirs on stage to sing “Every Praise.”
“Singing allows me to praise God in a different way and to learn music from different choir directors. All of them allow me to do what is my heart’s content and desire… to praise God with all I have and am,” said Chris Lacy, who sings with multiple choirs.
The afternoon of song allowed us to praise God, to sing, to pray, to clap, to shout, to raise our hands and to fully know our God is an awesome God!
Cheryl Wright is a member of the Black Catholic Ministry Commission.