How Negro Spirituals Came About

By: MacKenzie Fox

The Beginning of Negro Spirituals

Negro Spirituals were created during slavery times and used for religious reasons. This was a form of music that was a call and response pattern which consisted of clapping and dancing. Many slaves used spirituals as a way to express reaching freedom one day and would return to their homelands. Spirituals were also based on real life events and the different things many slaves experienced. Negro Spirituals helped them through slavery times and gave them spaces to freely worship through Christianity and praise God. Personally, I never noticed the call and response technique was highly used in negro spirituals. Growing up in church, I just sang many songs I never noticed the specifics in them and how they have been kept the same overtime from slave times until now. Below is a video example of a negro spiritual being sung and how it sounds from the movie 12 years a slave.


Exploring Negro Spirituals

Despite how long ago negro spirituals started, they are still sung today within churches and used in many ways. People such as Tyler Perry has incorporated some negro spirituals within his plays and movies. They are also widely used in HBCU choirs today as we have heard our own Spelman College Glee Club sing them as well. To the right is a very popular Negro Spiritual, “Wade in The Water.”

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