Robert Darden is host of the weekly SHOUT! Black Gospel Music Moments on KWBU. He is also a master teacher and professor of Journalism, Public Relations and New Media at Baylor University.
Following a recent hospital stay Darden wrote a short essay that was published in the Dallas Morning News. Here he is, in his own words with this commentary.
Nurses see us at our worst, and they still accept us unconditionally into their care.
I have spent my professional career researching and writing about the spirituals, gospel songs and freedom songs of the African American experience. They also provide much of the soundtrack of my life.
But two weeks ago, when I found myself in a crowded Waco hospital undergoing knee replacement surgery, it wasn’t a classic spiritual that sustained me. It was Mary Gauthier’s “Mercy Now.” “Mercy Now” was hailed as an instant classic upon its release in 2005, a simple, haunting plea that sounds older than the oldest spirituals, like it was somehow summoned from divine ether rather than composed in the vulgar present.
My father could use a little mercy now
The fruits of his labor fall and rot slowly on the ground
His work is almost over it won’t be long, he won’t be around
I love my father, he could use some mercy now
Like most American hospitals, Waco’s Ascension Providence could use a little mercy now. I was told that the hospital was completely full, mostly with suffering COVID-19 patients, and had only