"There is a balm in GileadThere's something very soothing about the opening notes. Like the oscillating imitates the movement of a hand on a back that needs comforting. Or perhaps it brings back memories of having Mother rubbing Vicks on your chest, a real balm to help one breathe in the throes of a cold.
to make the wounded whole.
There is a balm in Gilead
to heal the sin-sick soul."
I imagine the African American slaves who heard and sang this spiritual were heartened by it. That they'll be made whole and that those who have treated them harshly would be healed of whatever causes them to be that way. This sentiment is still relevent to the struggles of today. At least for those who are able to wish all people peace.
There are two verses typically associated with the spiritual which Wikipedia lists. They're encouraging even when honest about the challenges that confront us daily.
Is it selfish to want more? I want to hear more stories about those who have overcome abusive power struggles. It is these stories that give hope. And so many need hope. I'm wondering if intrepid poets, hymnwriters and accidental wordsmiths have written more verses. Or would like the challenge to pen some verses. Are you up for the challenge? Or can you think of a friend who would be perfect?
If you're up to the call, copy those verses into a comment below or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. They may be used in worship services, but I promise to let you know we used it and acknowledged you on the reprints.