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Kum Ba Yah

115. Kum Ba Yah

Another children’s choir story centered around “Kum Ba Yah.” It didn’t take us long to learn it, because many of them already knew it. And so after they had it well in hand, we added the American Sign Language signs to it. After a couple of weeks they were secure with the signing. One child said, “I don’t know why we’re learning it with signs because nobody in this church is deaf.” I said, “Well, let’s just keep going and maybe at the very end you will understand.”

Then I told them that we were going to sing it with the signs and do all the verses that we had learned. And I said, “At the very end, we’re going to still keep the rhythm of the song and almost sing it inside our heads as we do the signs in absolute silence.” We did that. We sang the chorus of “Kum Ba Yah” with signs in total silence. And at the very end I said, “That’s what it’s like to be deaf.”

It was still quiet in the choir and the little girl who had questioned why we were doing the signs at all, did a little intake of breath as she said “Oh.” In that silence we learned.

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