Translation: “Come by me (my Lord)”
Theme: Giving the gift of yourself to others.
Length: 650 words
Reading Time: 2 minutes + 3:34 minute video
Pete Seeger sings Kumbaya in Australia (1963-10-24)
This year, I’ve seen Kumbaya mentioned a few times in the comments and elsewhere around the sphere. The majority of them are mocking or dismissive in tone. I need to say something about this.
Singing Kumbaya (e.g. around a campfire at night) is a powerful experience which draws participants into a spirit of worship characterized by a subjective mood of humility, faith, and hope in a small group setting. It is this feature of the music that makes it deeply moving. This spirit of worship is the backbone of gospel music, and this aspect of gospel music has been a major influence on several other genres of music, including Bluegrass, Country, Folk, Pop, Soul, and the early formations of R+B and Rock-and-Roll.
In fact, within the music profession, it is well known that a person cannot sing well, unless he/she is in a worshipful mood, whether they care to admit that’s what it is or not. For instance, vocal students are taught to focus on their emotional energy and “think high” in order to gain an ear for producing the correct intonations.
Lately, this spirit of worship has fallen out of fashion within the music industry, and this is the main reason why a lot of modern music is trash, and also why most music doesn’t stand the test of time.
Likewise, this spirit of humility and worship is the beauty and the value of Kumbaya and similar songs. However, in our current culture, only children are permitted this poignant experience, because their hearts have not yet been hardened by the idols of our age – feminism, individualism, materialism, liberal progressivism, and sexualism. As children grow older, they become accustomed to the ways of this world and gradually lose their appreciation for that small group sense of humility, faith, and hope that is manifested in the Kumbaya experience.
As adults, it is easy for us to dismiss Kumbaya as childish and naively idealistic. But we must not lose sight of the spiritual virtues that are manifested in this experience. We must remain aware that the reason why we lose this sensitivity is because our hearts have been hardened by being continually exposed to the norms of idolatry, and participating in those norms to varying degrees as a matter of living in this world.
Those who are hard of heart will fail to recognize this beauty. Their identification with the world and becoming well accustomed to worldly standards and appearances inevitably blinds them to the beauty of worship and humility. As a result, a song such as Kumbaya appears to be boring, laughable, naïve, ridiculous, simplistic, or “goody-two-shoes”.
The spiritual defilement that accompanies this kind of attitude is not limited to one’s tastes in music. Back in August, we had a few posts that described how women get sucked into secular standards of beauty and attractiveness. Women like this gain a disposition of scorning modest women with a quiet spirit. Our articles didn’t mention it, but the same is true for men too. The constant submersion in sex hardens men’s hearts and teaches them to only be attracted to bulbous butt bimbos. It is an identification with the world that produces a hardness of the heart, and a blindness to true relationship potential. (I know, because I was like this years ago.)
If you want to be close to God, it is imperative that you soften your heart. One fair litmus test of knowing how soft your heart is, is how you perceive the glorious humility conveyed in songs like Kumbaya.
Lest we forget.