I will greatly rejoice in the LORD;
my whole being shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise
to spring up before all the nations.
SONG: “Amen” | Negro spiritual, arr. Jester Hairston | Performed by Harry Belafonte on Streets I Have Walked, 1963; re-released on Belafonte’s 2001 compilation album, Christmas
The word “Amen” is a transliteration of the Hebrew word for “surely,” “indeed,” or “truly.” Here’s Hairston introducing and leading his arrangement at a concert in Odense, Denmark, in April 1981:
For a fantastic overview of the song’s recording history, including audio, click here. I was excited to find it included in The Presbyterian Hymnal I recently bought, #299, arranged by Nelsie T. Johnson. My church always sings the Danish Amen at the conclusion of our worship service, but I think this African American call-and-response “Amen” would be a fun twist for high holy days like Christmas or Easter.
For Further Reading:
- Collected commentaries on Isaiah 61:11
- “Amen” entry in Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology
- “What Does ‘Amen’ Mean?” by Wayne Jackson
This post belongs to the weekly series Artful Devotion. If you can’t view the music player in your e-mail or RSS reader, try opening the post in your browser.
To view all the Revised Common Lectionary scripture readings for the First Sunday after Christmas Day, cycle B, click here.