African American a Capella Sacred Music from Delaware and Maryland
Event Date: 2012/08/23 Running Time: 59 minutes
Singing & Praying Band
The Singing and Praying Bands of Delaware and Maryland (Eastern and Western Shore) belong to an African American devotional/musical tradition that is unique to the Delmarva region, probably the oldest living African American musical tradition in Delaware and Maryland. In the past, almost half of the Methodist churches around the Delaware and Chesapeake Bays had their own band. With origins in West African religion, Christianity, and African American ring shout traditions, Singing & Praying Bands developed during slavery. The ministry of the Singing & Praying Bands takes place in host churches, often at a camp meeting after an evening preaching service is over. Members line out a hymn, pray a prayer, and end with a spiritual in which the group forms a circle, marching counterclockwise out onto the church grounds. Since the 1950s, the bands have diminished in number, and the singers have consolidated into one large band comprised of fifty to a hundred active members from twenty to thirty different churches. They come together most Sundays in the spring, summer, and fall, at a different church each week, and hold service there, keeping this tradition alive.