Singing “Go Tell It on the Mountain” on Christmas Eve reminded me of Psalm 133, the “song of ascents” that begins, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” Speaking of this psalm, Walter Brueggemann writes, “The poem anticipates the solidarity and harmony of all humanity as it lives without defensiveness in a creation benevolent enough to care for all.” In the same way, “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” reflecting the heart-language of the enslaved, invites us to join in solidarity with all creation as we live out God’s liberating kingdom here on earth. The gates of hell shall not prevail against God’s kingdom when, singing these songs of liberation and unity under the power of God’s spirit, we make a decision to ascend with Christ and to rise above cultures of disunity.

Singing spirituals is a relational, communal act of worship that joins us together.