does not describe me fully
it is where to start

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Music in Pentecostalism

Recently, I have surprised myself by segueing from writing about Puerto Rican cuatro music to reviewing a book about music and neurology and, next Saturday, to talking about the origins of the Pentecostal religion. In the end, I concluded that these posts share in common the unique role music plays in piercing cognitive barriers.

In my February 6 post, I will be disussing the special role that William Joseph Seymour, a son of slaves, played in sparking the international religious revival which led to Pentecostalism, which has become the world's fastest growing religion. As a preamble to that discussion, I provide the following two videos featuring the music of two Pentecostal churches. This music is important to hear in order to understand a religion which can never be completely understood in a cognitive sense. It is a religion which must be experienced, and there is no better way to experience it than through its music, always an integral part of its worship tradition. And if these videos sometimes seem like rock concerts, be aware that this style of worship preceded the earliest rock musicians.

Before I end, I want to clarify that, although I am the daughter of Pentecostal ministers, I left the religion in my teens. Despite that, when I hear this rousing Pentecostal music, I am stirred to my deepest core. In the process, I sometimes feel like the perpetual exile, destined to continue hearing the evocative music of her homeland, while knowing at the same time that she can never return. For now, listening to this music will have to satisfy my nostalgia for the environment of my childhood.

The Spanish-speaking Tabernáculo Cristiano. Trust me when I say that you do not have to understand a word of Spanish to appreciate this.

The English-speaking Atlanta West Pentecostal Church. You will notice that about five minutes into the video, there is "speaking in tongues," a distinctive feature of Pentecostal worship.


A Cuban In London said...

I, too, agree with you that certain church music can only be experienced and not explained. And music, as a universal language, can be a marvellous tool to transmit that energy. Whether the end result is benign or malign is a judgement I will reserve, but without this type of upbeat music we wouldn't have had the likes of Mahalia Jackson and Aretha Franklin.

Many thanks for such a wonderful post and I'm already looking forward to your Saturday one.

Greetings from London.

Judith Mercado said...

Mahalia and Aretha, two of my favorites. Jackson's Precious Lord is a song that appears frequently in my fiction. Franklin is of course the daughter of a minister. My personal belief is that the worship style of Pentecostals has its origins in Africa, just as jazz does.

Harvey said...

Good Lord and Holy ***t. What enthusiasm. I can see how you could miss this. Makes the hair on my arms stand up.