There is a Balm in Gilead for SATB Choir

By Traditional African-American Spiritual, Arr. Anthony Bannach


$10.00, for Church Choir


This piece is an arrangement of the traditional spiritual "There is a Balm in Gilead". No one is precisely sure who first wrote the words to this song, but many people speculate it is the result of a combination of the efforts of Washington Glass's hymn "The Sinner's Cure", and John Newton, whose original hymn most likely had an additional refrain added to it by Glass. The song's title refers to the biblical passage Jeremiah 8:22 :

"Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wounds of my [God's] people?"

The balm was a plant that was used to heal in the time of antiquity, but in the context of the Christians who wrote these new hymns, the healing power of the balm is used allegorically to describe Jesus as the healer of sinners. It is a song that has become a spiritual standard, being sung in churches and concert halls throughout the world. This arrangement maintains much of the feel of the original, but with some changes to the harmony to reflect influence from contemporary soul and R&B music, as well as writing a loose canon in the second verse which drives toward the high point of the song. I hope it is a joy for your choir to learn and perform.


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