Spirituals: The Invisible Church

What was The Invisible Church?

The Invisible Church’s were various sites of worship that enslaved African Americans would visit so they could worship God how they wanted without the supervision of a White Person. Enslaved Blacks would often sneak into the woods and go far into the Swamps In these “Invisible Churches” people would be allowed to freely express themselves. However, due to Black codes passed in the early 1630’s, enslaved people who congregated outside the supervision of whites was illegal. Getting caught could result in severe punishment that could even lead to death.

This video discuss the songs that were sang while on the Plantation and the influence that it still has today

What happened in The Invisible Church?

When enslaved African Americans congregated at these various sites of worship there would always be a prayer, communal singing, testifying and sometimes even preaching. Often prayer was more of a song than a Speech and when it was time to sing together, it involved hand clapping, body movement and sometimes even shouting. It was even said that “under the influence of the holy spirit” people could be moved to scream, fall, run, cry or dance as said in African American Music An Introduction. This was a lot different from the services on the plantation because often the preaching’s would be spewed, so the pastor often taught compliance within the plantation along with people being very quiet and timid. Ecstatic worship was not acceptable.

In this video the “Slave Bible” was used to instill obedience and even removed several different passages, an original bible has over 1,100 chapters in it while a “Slave Bible” has only 232.

In the Pictures above you can see African Americans Worshiping together

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