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Negro Spiritals: Slave Songs of The United States

negro-spirituals

Orgin of Spirituals

Negro spirituals are the earlist forms of religious music that was deveopled by African Americans in the United States. The spirituals were created as a form of resistance by the enslaved people. During this time period, spirituals represented a genre that celebrated Christian values and resisted the social structures that continued to produce and promote slavery. The spiriutals were based on hymns and psalms taught to enslaved people by the Europeans who captured them. African enslaved people created a new form of music characterized by the “call- response” style of singing. The songs were created on improve and demonstrated simple lines that reflected the daily struggle for (socail, economic, and religious) freedom. 

The Arranged Spiritual

During the antebellum period, the spaces were folk spirutals were considered appropriate were constantly changing. As a result of the Civil War, an increased prescense of whites came from the north to south. These whites were accustomed to interacted with blacks and certain way and caused a shift in the recitation and peformance of Negro spirituals. In 1871, spirituals transitioned to the performace stage to be heard in concert by those who attended the shows. An early form of negro spiritual performaces can be found by the Fisk Jubilee Singers of Fisk Univeristy. These students begin to travel across the country to sing spirituals during paid performaces to raise funds for the Univeristy. They embarked on a tour that followed the route of the Underground Railraod created by Harriet Tubman; they traveled from Ohio to New York entertaining crowds with their unique and powerful voices. Some of their signature spiritual songs were “Go Down, Moses”, “Steal Away”, and “Keep Me From Sinking Down”. 

Slave Songs of
The United States

Throughout history, music and songs have been recorded as evidence that certain cultural values existed. A collection of slave songs were created in the “Slave Songs of the United States”. This collection of songs showcased the prescences of nineteenth century arrangements of solos, choirs, and ensembles. Examples of the songs found in the collection are “Roll Jordan Roll”, “We Will Walk Through the Valley”, and “The Old Ship of Zion”. Confirmation of religious and spirituals prescences in the negro spirituals can be find in the verses of the songs. Enslaved africans used references from the Old Testament characters ;ole Moses and Daniel. The characters all faced great trials and overcame them with the help of God. God was seen as an important part of slaves daily life and promoted the importance of spirtuality and freedom from bondage. These enslaved people were not very concerned about the afterlife and promoted the ideas of community power to overcome and obstacles posed by other human beings. The negro spiritual represented a collective culture of Chrisitain belief and African values that was performed as intergral aspect of the New World and African American culture. 

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