This Little Light of Mine: No. 2 of Two Uncommon Spirituals
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African American Spirituals are, in my opinion, the finest folk music to arise from U.S. culture. Among the thousands of surviving songs are tunes that are not widely known but deserve to be. My hope is that more people will come to know this wonderful tune, fashioned by an unknown African American, probably a slave. When "Two Uncommon Spirituals" is performed as a set, "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen" is sung first, moving immediately to
"This Little Light of Mine." The first spiritual in the set is in the key of D minor; the second in D major. The despair of "Nobody Knows" moves to the hope and commitment of "This Little Light."
"This little light of mine" is dedicated to composer Alice Parker with whom I studied in mid-career. I'm also a long-time trustee—and current co-chair—of Melodious Accord, a non-profit that supports the work of Parker. "This Little Light of Mine" was dedicated to Parker on the occasion of her 80th birthday.
I used to serve as director of music ministry at St. John's, Lafayette Square, Washington, D.C.—also known as "The Church of the Presidents"—and this anthem has been performed in the company of several U.S. presidents. On multiple occasions it was sung while the president lit the altar candles during a prayer service. "This Little Light of Mine" also appears on a Gothic label CD of my music.