uploader at youtube wrote: Yolanda Rhodes sings 'Balm In Gilead', a traditional Negro Spiritual that is typically performed as an American classical art song. She and her ensemble infused this spiritual with a unique West Indian style.
This makes absolutely no sense really, but ever since the oil catastrophe began in the Gulf of Mexico this song will not leave my mind. I saw a report this week on how the people of New Orleans are waiting in agony for the oil to reach their area, with the possible outcome being a city altered for decades and maybe forever. A local chef/restaurant owner could not hold back tears during his interview. And I thought of this song. I think of what a waste of time it seems to hope it won't destroy the fishing industry in that area and how prayers to save the birds and fish feel senseless, as if we are consigned this time to endure destruction and watch death. But there is this song...
The lyrics to Balm in Gilead do not represent my own personal beliefs. Why, then, I wonder, does it soothe my spirit to hear it now? I mean I actually sought it out at youtube, listening to countless versions -- and when I heard this one by Yolanda Rhodes (who I had never heard of before) the song came through her voice smack into my heart.
So I am posting it. Because, for some inexplicable pulling to do so, I must.
- Winter - From the Journal of Henry David Thoreau Feb. 19, 1854 . . . . I observe the great, well-protected buds of the balm of Gilead, spearhead-like. There is no shine upon them now, and their viscidness is not very apparent. A great many willow catkins show a little down peeping from under the points of the scales, but I have no doubt that all this was done last fall. I noticed it then.
- The great 1996 movie, The Spitfire Grill, where I first heard the song Balm of Gilead. Note: the movie trailer doesn't work at the site describing the movie. I found the actual scene where the song is sung and it can be viewed at youtube h-e-r-e.
Description of the plant/tree with the name "balm of Gilead" varies:
- (in balm (herb)) ...bells of Ireland. Aromatic exudations from species of Commiphora (trees and shrubs of the incense-tree family) may also be referred to as balm. Balm of Gilead, or balm of Mecca, is the myrrhlike resin from Commiphora...
- The “balm of Gilead” (Genesis 37:25; Jeremiah 8:22), used medicinally in antiquity, was the mastic obtained from Pistachia lentiscus; it now commonly refers to buds of a species of North American poplar (Populus) used to make cough syrups.
What was Gilead?
- (in Gilead (ancient region, Palestine)) Gilead was the scene of the battle between Gideon and the Midianites and was also the home of the prophet Elijah.
Who titled her 2009 album Balm in Gilead (but does not sing the actual song in the album)?
I am going to order some of this stuff to use on the rashes I keep getting on my legs and arms.
For any Biblical scholars who happen upon this post, I found a post about balm in Gilead at the blog of a professor of the old testament, in which he offers: The purpose of my post is to provide an alternative reading to Jeremiah’s words, a reading that I believe, reflects the true intent of what Jeremiah was trying to communicate to his audience. Click here to read it.
Yolanda Rhodes' website for more of her songs, stories, and art.