Music has served as an outlet and refuge, for the African American community.  Folk music set the foundation of black music. It is the premise to negro spirituals, and so forth. Folk music ultimately would develop into negro spirituals as the introduction of religion made it’s way to slaves. Because the writers of many spirituals were unknown as a result of oral tradition and displacement as a result of enslavement, it is not until the nineteenth century the first spirituals were recorded physically. Some of the first black composers to arrange spirituals physically were Charles Albert Tindley, Harry Thacker Burleigh, and JOhn Rosamond Johnson. The first to copyright church songs, Tindley took negro spirituals and turned them into gospel songs.

Negro spirituals were usually sang together and used a way of unifying slaves. Many negro spirituals were recorded by slave masters or white people in general. Due to this the negro spirituals that we know today, could have been slightly or significantly different. Some of the most notable negro spirituals include “Wade in the Water” and “Amazing Grace”.

Overall, Negro Spirituals were and are still necessary. The message and strength that is reflected through the lyrics shows how black people have always used music to get through difficult times. It also makes me think about how I use music to get through my own personal difficult times.

negro spirituals

Negro Spirituals


Dates of creation

Is it a folksong?

Popular Spirituals

Where does the name derive from?


Work songs

Camp meetings

Brush arbor meetings

Bush meetings

Ring shout

Sorrow songs


Folk Spiritual

Arranged solo spiritual

Arranged Choir Concert Spiritual 

Was there a secret language in the Negro Spiritual (explain use examples)?

What is the Negro Spirituals connection to religion in America?

What is Africanized Christianity?

Is there such a thing as a “white spiritual”?

What is the HBCU connection to the Negro Spiritual?

Who are the noted composers of the Negro Spiritual?

Who are the noted singers of the Negro Spiritual?

Explain how the Negro Spiritual has evolved from 1864 – 2021

Using musical examples and critique.

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