Let’s Talk About Spiritual Music

A Langham and McCants Collaboration

Spiritual music was used by slaves as a way to praise God. They were sung in the Invisible Church in secret so they were about to worship freely without white supervision. Many of the songs contained underlying double meanings also known as double entendre. It was evident that the slaves were singing about religious events that happened in the Bible. They were also singing with the intent of knowing that God sees their struggles and will deliver them from suffering as He has for those in the Bible.  Many negro spirituals incorporate multiple rhythms being sung at the same time. They were a way for the slaves to express religion through song.

Wallace Willis is an African American Negro Spiritual artist. He grew up on a plantation in Oklahoma. He wrote the song “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” in 1865. The song is about returning to Heaven (home). This is an example of spiritual music because it demonstrates how the slaves worshiped God through singing.

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Negro Spirituals had a heavy influence on today’s gospel music. Both genres consist of secular and sacred singing. Many negro spirituals are still sung today and are sometimes referenced in gospel songs. I believe that secular music is something that African Americans relied on during their times of trouble and they still use it today to express their faith.



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