Black Abolitionists: Watch Night — Waiting for the Hour

0 Posted by - December 31, 2016 - BLACK ABOLITIONIST, Holidays And Birthdays, LATEST POSTS

By Lesley Gist, The Gist of Freedom

Origins of Watch Night!
The Emancipation Proclamation..Carlton’s painting is variously called “Watch Night — Waiting for the Hour” or ” Watch Meeting–Dec. 31st, 1862.” It was sent to President Lincoln by abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison

The Watch Night painting hangs in the White House, in a room called the Lincoln Bedroom. Which is that president’s study and Cabinet Room, over the desk upon which he signed the Emancipation Proclamation on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve, 1862. Black Methodists and Baptists celebrate Watch Night, December 31, 1862: the Emancipation Proclamation would go into effect at midnight. This is reason behind the celebration which continues in African American churches today. Today the celebrations strike a more joyous note than prior penitential Watch Nights.

The Emancipation Proclamation applied only to enslaved Africans of the Confederate States. The prayer meeting congregation depicted in Carlton’s painting consists of former enslaved Africans that migrated to Union territory during the Civil War.

The makeshift pulpit is made of boards salvaged from crates. The minister’s timepiece reads 11:55.

Carlton’s painting is variously called “Watch Night — Waiting for the Hour” or ” Watch Meeting–Dec. 31st, 1862.” In 1864 and also circulated widely as an engraving (below).

The painting now hangs in what is called the Lincoln Bedroom, actually that president’s study and Cabinet Room, over the desk upon which he signed the Emancipation Proclamation on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve, 1862.

“Watch Night Services” have special significance in African American communities. According to tradition, such gatherings can be traced back December 31, 1862, also known as “Freedom’s Eve.” On that night, Blacks came together in churches and private homes all across the nation, anxiously awaiting news that the Emancipation Proclamation had become law.Then, at the stroke of midnight, it was January 1, 1863, and all slaves in the Confederate States were declared legally free.

When the news was received, there were prayers, shouts and songs of joy as people fell to their knees and thanked God. The tradition of Watch Night Services continues to be observed in many churches, particularly African-American congregations, across the land. Learning of the African American connection with New Year’s Eve Services inspired this poem

Watch Night Service
They assembled together long before midnight
On Freedom’s Eve, last dark night of another year.
As old gave way to new and the last hours drew near,
They prayed into the New Year–Eighteen Sixty-three–
And stayed on their knees until the dawn’s early light,
As the good news proclaimed freedom across the land.

No longer shackled, no longer bound, they were free
To savor the pure sweetness of their liberty.

We now look back to see just how far we have come,
While looking ahead to see the coming Kingdom.

We are still watching and waiting, looking to see:
This could truly be the year of our Jubilee.
We stand in the fields of our heritage, gleaning,
As “Watch Night Service” takes on a whole new meaning.
As we approach another “Freedom’s Eve,”
we reflect upon the past with deepest gratitude for our journey,
thus far along the way,
and look ahead with anticipation of even greater triumphs ahead in 2013.



  • minecraft pc download May 8, 2019 - 3:03 am

    It’s going to be end of mine day, but before ending I am reading this
    fantastic piece of writing to improve my knowledge.

  • download minecraft for free May 8, 2019 - 3:56 pm

    Greetings from California! I’m bored to death at work so
    I decided to check out your website on my iphone during lunch break.
    I enjoy the information you provide here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home.

    I’m surprised at how fast your blog loaded on my mobile ..
    I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyhow, excellent site!

  • g May 11, 2019 - 10:19 am

    Amazing! Its really awesome post, I have got much clear idea on the topic of from
    this article.

  • g May 12, 2019 - 2:01 pm

    This is the perfect website for anybody who hopes to find out about this topic.
    You know a whole lot its almost tough to argue with you (not that I
    personally will need to…HaHa). You certainly put a new
    spin on a topic which has been written about for
    ages. Wonderful stuff, just great!

  • download minecraft for free May 17, 2019 - 1:35 pm

    I simply couldn’t depart your web site before suggesting that I really enjoyed the standard information an individual supply for your guests?
    Is going to be again continuously in order to check up
    on new posts

  • gamefly free trial May 21, 2019 - 5:11 am

    What’s up it’s me, I am also visiting this website on a
    regular basis, this site is actually fastidious and the users are actually sharing
    good thoughts.

  • gamefly free trial June 1, 2019 - 2:09 am

    I read this article fully concerning the difference of
    most recent and previous technologies, it’s
    awesome article.

  • gamefly free trial June 4, 2019 - 1:05 pm

    hello!,I like your writing very much! proportion we keep in touch
    more about your article on AOL? I require an expert on this house to unravel my problem.
    Maybe that is you! Looking forward to peer you.

  • StepBaday June 4, 2019 - 4:32 pm

    Cialis Fertilita Cialis Vendita On Line In Italia Tadalafil viagra levitra [url=]viagra prescription[/url] Vendita Viagra Internet

  • son dakika yalova haberleri June 8, 2019 - 12:30 am

    Zune and iPod: Most people compare the Zune to the Touch, but after seeing how slim and surprisingly small and light it is, I consider it to be a rather unique hybrid that combines qualities of both the Touch and the Nano. It’s very colorful and lovely OLED screen is slightly smaller than the touch screen, but the player itself feels quite a bit smaller and lighter. It weighs about 2/3 as much, and is noticeably smaller in width and height, while being just a hair thicker.

  • new ps4 games 2019 June 8, 2019 - 6:16 am

    Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted
    to say that I have really enjoyed surfing around your blog posts.
    In any case I will be subscribing to your feed and I hope you
    write again very soon!

  • StepBaday June 12, 2019 - 1:04 pm

    fedex shipping isotretinoin tablets low price Buy Tadacip Que Efectos Produce El Viagra [url=]cialis 20mg for sale[/url] Commander Cialis Moins Cher Achat De Cialis En Ligne