Standing On The Promises

Offering Hope & Harmony for Easter: Bosque Chorale presents blessed spirituals in spring concert April 13 at the Bosque Arts Center’s Frazier Performance Hall

CLIFTON – Singing spiritual music sustained many a troubled soul, many oppressed peoples as they reached to a higher power for strength and understanding, clinging to hope and harmony through song. Many spiritual songs find their origins in hymns or psalms with roots in informal gatherings of African slaves in the fields, outdoor meetings and in "praise houses.”

The Bosque Chorale presents an evening of traditional spirituals for their spring concert, April 13 at 7:30 p.m. in the Frazier Performance Hall at the Bosque Arts Center in Clifton. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased on line at or by calling the BAC at 254-675-3724.

Under Maestro David Anavitarte ardent direction, the excellent choir offers moving sorrow songs, jubilant songs and freedom songs; all praising God, all touching the soul. And listening to the lyrics, many of the songs are perfect in these weeks leading up to Easter.

The magnificent and rejoicing “I’ve just seen Jesus,” another Hayes arrangement is also perfect for this period leading up to Easter, as it describes Jesus’ death and resurrection.

The beloved spiritual “Hold On” with tremendous rhythmic variety, vitality and vocal contrasts also holds the Easter message with the lyrics “He carried your burdens and suffered the pain. So hope through the hurt, trust in His grace. Walk through the fire and lift up your place and hold on.” It too comes out of the slave culture of the American south.

Harriet Tubman used the codified protest spiritual “Steal Away” to identify herself to slaves who might want to flee north. This other Hayes arrangement also brings a lot of jazzy movement to “Go Down Moses,” another spiritual used as a code for escape to freedom and a plea to abolish slavery with Moses’ words “Let my people go.”

With roots in the Antebellum South, many of the evening’s songs African rhythms, giving them a jazzy undertone, with syncopation, counterpoints, call and answer passages. During the chorale’s practices, Anavitarte added the jazzy syncopation with the piano.

The concert’s name comes from the vibrant and highly spirited song “Standing on the Promises” by R. Kelso Carter. This exceptional arrangement from the gifted chorale composer Mark Hayes brings a dynamic, invigorating and swinging gospel song.

No spiritual chorale performance is complete without the Hayes’ extremely popular “I’ll Fly Away medley;” a real gospel tapestry, arranged in a down home country style with fresh playful choral harmonies. The toe-tapping, hand-clapping song is as much fun to sing as to listen to.

The evening also includes songs “Did n’ My Lord Deliver Daniel?” “I’d Rather Have Jesus,” Go Down Moses” with the chorale rounding off the evening with their staple “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

Expect to be tapping your toes with the jazzy undertones of some songs, or getting goosebumps with the soft and slow spirituals sung by the best chorale in the Heart of Texas. And be sure to enjoy a refreshment and a chat with the vocalists in the reception following the concert.


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1 comment

  1. Saranne Penberthy 30 March, 2023 at 18:34 Reply

    WOW! Your article describes perfectly the music and the spirit of the Chorale as the music is sung!

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