Negro Spirituals

Topics: Slavery in the United States, African American, American Civil War Pages: 3 (1132 words) Published: December 14, 2005
The story of Negro spirituals is closely linked to the history of African Americans, within three milestones: the abolition of slavery (1865), the Black Renaissance (1925), and the first Dr. Martin Luther King's Day (1985). Negro spirituals blend a combination of spoken word, hums, moans, groans, and old slave dialect and incorporated them with a simple repetitive tune to convey strong emotion. Before 1925 almost all the first Africans who arrived in the New World were slaves. They came from several regions of the African West Coast. Their ways of living were described by slaves themselves, in some narratives and has often times be depicted in televisions shows and movies. They had to work either in plantations or in town. Most importantly they had to work against their will. Slavery was an important issue facing Churches, as slaves were allowed to meet for Christian services. However, because some Christian ministers were against this, slaves weren't allowed to participate and give input freely. This resulted in rural slaves staying after the regular worship services, in churches or in plantations, for singing and dancing. But, slaveholders did not allow dancing and playing drums, as in the usual African custom. Slaves also had meetings in secret places to meet one another and share their joys, pains, and hopes. In rural meetings, thousands of slaves gathered and listened to preachers, while singing spirituals, for hours. So, in rural areas, spirituals were sung, mainly outside of churches. At church, hymns and psalms were sung during services. Some of them were transformed into songs of the typical Negro form. The lyrics of Negro spirituals were tightly linked with the lives of their authors: slaves. Spirituals were inspired by the message of Jesus Christ and his Good News (Gospel) of the Bible, "You can be saved". They are different from hymns and psalms, because they were a way of sharing the hard condition of being a slave. Many slaves in town and in...

References: Cited
Kolchin, Peter. American Slavery. New York: Penguin Books, 1995.
Litwack, Leon F. Trouble in Mind. New York: Vintage Books, 1998.
PBS. "Jubilee Singers Sacrafice and Glory." . 2002. WGBH. 02 Feb. 2004
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Quarles, Benjamin. The Negro in the Making of America. A Touchstone Book Simon
and Schuster Publ, 1996.
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