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This Little Light of Mine -- Back Story

This Little Light of Mine -- Back Story

by Jim Wishmyer on December 13, 2020

During the Advent season, we are going to learn to SING a verse of a song you probably know already. But we are going to sing it in a language you may have never known before! Sign language is used by over one million people in this world as their primary way to communicate.  It is a way to communicate with the body and the eyes! People who use sign language also sing songs with this language and we are going to join them in singing.

‘This Little Light of Mine’ is a song many of us know. But did you know it became a very important song that was sung a lot during the Civil Rights movement because there were those who wanted to dim the light of African Americans by not letting them vote in elections. So as we all learn more about the importance of music in making the world a better place, a brighter place, we are going to highlight this song! We’ll learn a different verse each week.

Verse 1 verse 2 verse 3 verse 4

So the lyrics to "This Little Light of Mine" are very simple and repetitive, which makes it an easy song to remember and sing. No wonder that it's one of the first songs many children learn in Sunday school - even 100 years after it was written.

Perhaps this is because the words themselves force your face into a smile.

But there’s so much more to this song.  In an NPR interview, Freedom Singer Rutha Mae Harris had this to say about This little light of mine:

"Music was an anchor. It kept us from being afraid," "You start singing, and somehow, those billy clubs would not hit you. It played a very important role in the movement."

It might seem odd to call such an innocent-sounding song defiant. But in the same interview, that's exactly how blues singer Bettie Mae Fikes says she felt when she recorded her classic version of this song in 1963. Defiant.

Fast forward a half-century to today, and the song is still unifying people. This American anthem sparks a powerful feeling, which has made so many who sing it feel a little less alone, a bit more courageous, and a little more free. This may help explain the enduring power of this anointed song - "This Little Light of Mine."

Tags: advent, light, little

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