Watch Night

Watch Night is a vigil kept on the last night of the year in services that are thoughtful, solemn, soulful, joyous and celebratory. Congregants sing hymns, share testimonies and give thanks, offer up problems and mistakes of the old year and anticipate the blessings of the New Year.

Hosted by Howard Powell, Watch Night showcased this observance and highlighted its unique, historic meaning for African American churches, illuminating and personalizing the significance of the service using interviews, music, poetry and song. Because the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect at midnight on New Year's Eve 1863, black Christians have invested the Watch Night tradition and its rituals with new depths of meaning, often calling it Freedom's Eve.

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