Composer Highlight – Moses Hogan

Updated: Sep 13, 2020

Moses George Hogan (1957-2003) was an American internationally renown composer and arranger of choral music. He was a pianist, conductor, and arranger and was best known for his settings of Negro spirituals. We are singing his arrangement of Ride On, King Jesus.

History (via umc.org)

“African-American spirituals, also known as Negro spirituals, are a familiar, precious part of American history. Today their melodies are an integral part of worship services. Often sung as part of Martin Luther King Jr. birthday and Black History Month celebrations, oppressed people worldwide continue to use them as protest and liberation songs.

While these songs have strong connections to historical and personal experiences, the entire function of the spirituals may not be obvious. Songs originating during the slavery years in the United States, 1600 through 1870, are generally categorized as plantation, sorrow and jubilee songs; however, the use of these melodies goes beyond those labels.

African-American spirituals emerged from a mix of the brutal institution of slavery, Christian influences and African culture. The songs expressed a yearning for a better life, claimed identification with the children of Israel, named the slave owner’s deceit and hypocrisy, underscored the need for a closer walk with God, identified the reality of Satan and emphasized the slave’s hope for freedom and the future. Love, grace, mercy, judgment, death and eternal life are among the themes enfolded in these songs.

The spirituals offer a historical record revealing the slave’s struggle for freedom and survival, and yet reflect the exciting worship experiences that expressed their hope for life’s possibilities.”

Ride On King Jesus

Ride on King Jesus was written as an answer to the mistreatment of slaves. The text suggests that no slaveowner was a match for King Jesus whom was on the slaves’ side.

“Ride on, King Jesus, no man can hinder me.”

The text also paints a picture of African-American slaves starting their journey as young people, now growing into adults whose “races are almost done.” Enslaved Africans found their answer in Jesus Christ, and constantly praised him throughout their days of mistreatment.

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