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Morgan State University Choir Sets The Tone For Remembering Cummings

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Mourners paid tribute to Congressman Elijah Cummings yesterday inside the Capitol Rotunda. They filed past the coffin of the Maryland lawmaker, who died at the age of 68.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MORGAN STATE UNIVERSITY CHOIR: (Vocalizing).

GREENE: What you're hearing there is the Morgan State University Choir. Elijah Cummings had a close relationship with that chorus, as NPR's Andrew Limbong reports.

ANDREW LIMBONG, BYLINE: Morgan State University is an historically black school in Baltimore - Representative Cummings' home town - and it's where the congressman lay in repose on Wednesday as the choir sang.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MORGAN STATE UNIVERSITY CHOIR: (Singing) God made my heart to love, and I never will turn back...

LIMBONG: The singers have performed around the world, including a 2015 concert alongside Aretha Franklin at the White House.

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ARETHA FRANKLIN: (Singing) Beams of heaven...

MORGAN STATE UNIVERSITY CHOIR: (Singing) Jesus, lift me up.

FRANKLIN: (Singing) ...Lord, as I go. Plant my feet...

MORGAN STATE UNIVERSITY CHOIR: (Singing) Lord, lift me up...

LIMBONG: Cummings had close ties to Morgan State University. He sat on the board of the school and delivered the commencement speech earlier this year.

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ELIJAH CUMMINGS: We who once were barred from citizenship must now march in the forefront of a movement of democratic restoration for all Americans.

LIMBONG: The university choir sang him home to Baltimore on Wednesday, and again yesterday as he lay in state in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol, the first black lawmaker to be so honored.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MORGAN STATE UNIVERSITY CHOIR: (Singing) If I can help...

LIMBONG: The song goes, if I can help somebody as I travel along with a word or song from doing wrong, then my living shall not be in vain.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MORGAN STATE UNIVERSITY CHOIR: (Singing) Then my living shall not be in vain.

LIMBONG: Elijah Cummings' funeral will be back in Baltimore today. Andrew Limbong, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MORGAN STATE UNIVERSITY CHOIR: ...Shall not be in vain... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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