Slave Songs and Spirituals

Slave Songs (African American Spirituals & Negro Spirituals)
African American Spirituals, also known as Negro Spirituals, are also referred to as Slave Songs as they were created by African slaves in the United States. Slave Songs and African American spirituals are generally Christian songs and many appear in hymnals. The term, "spiritual" derives from Ephesians 5:19 "Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." The sufferings of Jesus Christ and biblical stories that told of delivering people from bondage drew slaves to Christianity.

Music and Lyrics of Slave Songs and Spirituals
The lyrics of the Slave Songs and Negro Spirituals are expressed in the vernacular, using broken words that were part of the everyday speech of the slaves. As the slaves were part of an almost entirely oral culture the names of authors of the lyrics and the composers of the tunes that were usually sung a cappella have been lost in time and have been forgotten. The first major collection of African American spirituals, was published in 1867 in Slave Songs of the United States, after the American Civil War and the emancipation of slaves. In the 20th century the African American spirituals and Slave Songs helped inspire blues and gospel music.

Negro Spirituals and Slave Songs History: The history of the Negro Spirituals and Slave Songs is highly diverse and the songs reflect many aspects of the working life of the slaves and the hardships of slavery. The songs were not only sung to reflect the Christian religion, Christian values and Bible stories, the words and lyrics of this songs also reflected the everyday life of a slave. The Slave Songs and Spirituals were used as work songs to accompany tasks in the fields hoeing or harvesting crops often using repetition and "call and response" elements. Other Slave Songs were created as boat songs in which the rowers used the tempo of the song in order to maintain the slow, steady motion of rowing. Slaves also used symbolism in the lyrics of Spirituals and Slave Songs to secretly communicate with each other, conveying hidden codes and secret messages containing directions on how to escape to freedom. Discover the history and the meanings of each of the Spirituals and Slave Songs in the following list. 

 

 

Spirituals & Slave Songs List - Amen: Find the Amen song lyrics with facts about the history of this religious, Christian song, its meaning and symbolism.

Spirituals & Slave Songs List - Balm in Gilead: Find the Balm in Gilead lyrics with facts about the history of this song of healing and salvation.

Spirituals & Slave Songs List - Children Go where I Send Thee: Find the Children Go where I Send Thee lyrics with facts about the history of this cumulative song that uses Biblical subjects related to numbers.

Spirituals & Slave Songs List - Deep River: Find the Deep River lyrics with facts about the history of the song and its allusion to freedom and the Promised Land.

Spirituals & Slave Songs List - Didnt My Lord Deliver Daniel: Find the Didnt My Lord Deliver Daniel lyrics with facts about the history of the song and its meaning in relations to the Biblical stories of Daniel and Jonah.

Spirituals & Slave Songs List - Down by the Riverside: Find the Down by the Riverside lyrics with facts about the history of the song during the American Civil War and the meaning of the lyrics.

Spirituals & Slave Songs List - Down in the Valley: Find the Down in the Valley lyrics with facts about the history of the song, its relation to the Civil War and the Biblical stories of the Apocalypse.

Spirituals & Slave Songs List - Down to the River to Pray: Find the Down to the River to Pray lyrics with facts about the  meaning of the lyrics with their secret code references to escaping slavery.

Spirituals & Slave Songs List - Early in the Morning: Find the Early in the Morning lyrics that illustrate Christian values and the identity, unity a community of the gathering.

Spirituals & Slave Songs List - Fare Ye Well: Find the Fare Ye Well lyrics with facts about the history of the song and its lyrics that express the wish of many slaves to return to their homes in Africa.

Spirituals & Slave Songs List - Free at Last Free at Last: Find the Free at Last lyrics with facts about the history of the song following the end of the Civil War (1861 - 1865).

Spirituals & Slave Songs List - Follow the drinking gourd: Find the Follow the drinking gourd lyrics with facts about thehistory of one of the most famous songs about the Underground Railroad.

Spirituals & Slave Songs List - Give me Jesus: Find the Give me Jesus lyrics about belief in Jesus Christ and his resurrection.

Spirituals & Slave Songs List - Go Down, Moses: Find the Go Down, Moses lyrics reflecting the biblical story of the conflict between Moses and the Pharaoh.

Spirituals & Slave Songs List - Go Tell it on the Mountain: Find the Go Tell it on the Mountain lyrics with facts about the history of the song celebrating the birth of Jesus.

Spirituals & Slave Songs List - Good News: Find the Good News lyrics with facts about the history of the song that celebrates Christmas

Spirituals & Slave Songs List - I want to go home: Find the I want to go home lyrics with facts about the history of this work song and the meaning of its words.

Spirituals & Slave Songs List - Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho: Find the Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho lyrics with facts about the history of the song and its relationship with the Biblical stories of Moses and Joshua and their release from bondage.

Spirituals & Slave Songs List - Lord, Remember Me: Find the Lord, Remember Me lyrics that demonstrates the use of the use of lyric repetition in African American spirituals

Spirituals & Slave Songs List - Keep Your Eyes on the Prize: Find the Keep Your Eyes on the Prize lyrics with facts about the history of the song and its meaning and reference to the Biblical story of Paul and Silas as told in Acts 16:19-26..

Spirituals & Slave Songs List - Michael row the boat ashore: Find the Michael row the boat ashore lyrics with facts about the history of the old boat song and its meaning.

Spirituals & Slave Songs List - My Army Cross Over: Find the My Army Cross Over lyrics with facts about the history of the song and its meaning in relation to the River Jordan.

Spirituals & Slave Songs List - Nobody Knows the Trouble Ive Seen: Find the Nobody Knows the Trouble Ive Seen lyrics with facts about the history of this solemn, soulful song and its meaning.

Spirituals & Slave Songs List - Old Time Religion: Find the Old Time Religion lyrics with facts about the history of the song and its meaning in relation to releasing slaves from bondage.

Spirituals & Slave Songs List - One More River: Find the One More River lyrics with facts about the history of the song and its meaning in respect of the River Jordan.

Spirituals & Slave Songs List - Roll, Jordan, Roll: Find the Roll, Jordan, Roll lyrics with facts about the history of the song and its meaning in respect of the River Jordan.

Spirituals & Slave Songs List - Steal Away: Find the Steal Away lyrics with facts about the history of the song and its meaning and its significance to Nat Turner.

Spirituals & Slave Songs List - Swing Low Sweet Chariot: Find the Swing Low Sweet Chariot lyrics with facts about the history of the song and its meaning in respect of the "Underground Railroad".

Spirituals & Slave Songs List - This Little Light of Mine: Find the This Little Light of Mine lyrics sung by slaves as a religious song at community gatherings.

Spirituals & Slave Songs List - Wade in the Water: Find the Wade in the Water lyrics with facts about the history of the song and its meaning of the secret, coded instruction to fugitive slaves.

Spirituals & Slave Songs List - Wayfaring Stranger: Find the Wayfaring Stranger lyrics with facts about the history of the song and the meaning of the biblical reference to the River Jordan.

Spirituals & Slave Songs List - Were You There: Find the Were You There lyrics with facts about the history of the song and its meaning.
 

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