I finally saw Selma last week. If you have not seen it yet, I urge you to go watch before it disappears from theaters. It is moving and magnificent.
One of the most powerful scenes is the first attempt to march to Birmingham. The protestors peacefully cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge and are confronted by armed sheriffs and policemen. Without time to negotiate or even think about turning around, the thugs descend and begin beating the marchers. You sit watching in horror as old ladies are chased down and tackled, and peaceful college students are struck with billy clubs. Blood flies and people scream.
All while this song is playing.
I got a frisson of recognition when I heard the first line. We sing this song in our church choir regularly. A slightly different arrangement (no spirituals are exact, right?), but on those Sundays when we need some weight.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I walked into rehearsal a few days after seeing the film and hearing our director Amy say that we would be singing it this Sunday.
So that’s what I thought of as we sang. What’s my pilgrim journey? Where is my Edmund Pettus Bridge, and who are the forces of evil blocking the path? I want Jesus to be marching right alongside me.
The First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn is a group I am proud to be a part of, and our choir is phenomenally talented. We have a few albums out, most recently ‘Where I Am,’ released in 2014. You won’t hear me on this, but the album features another haunting arrangement of I Want Jesus to Walk With Me.
You can preview the whole album on Soundcloud. But why not go ahead and buy it and support great music? You can find it on iTunes and Amazon in both digital and hard copies. If you are in close proximity to NYC….come to church one Sunday and you will get it for free!