The Southern Girls’ Perspective: Negro Spirituals & The Southern Black Church

excerpts from The Southern Baptist Convention’s Resolution on Racial Reconciliation

WHEREAS, Our relationship to African-Americans has been hindered from the beginning by the role that slavery played in the formation of the Southern Baptist Convention;

WHEREAS, Many of our congregations have intentionally and/or unintentionally excluded African-Americans from worship, membership, and leadership;

Our perspective

Being two young southern women raised in the bible belt, Decatur, GA and Columbus, MS, we have been born and bred in the church. One great thing about southern churches is they are the perfect balance of tradition mixed with the progressiveness to move us forward into the new years. We always knew that we carried traditions of our ancestors, but we never knew specifically how deep rooted they ran. At Sixth Avenue Baptist Church, we

 sing “He Never Said A Mumbling Word” every communion Sunday. Though the version by Moses Hogan takes the song slow, when we sing this song it is faster and more percussive. We went back and sang over the familiar words to consider what they actually said.

“He never said a mumblin’ word, he never said a mumblin’ word, he never said a mumblin’ word for me

One day when I was lost, he died up on the cross and I know it was the blood for me.

They whipped him all night long, they whipped him all night long, they whipped him all night long for me

One day when I was lost, he died up on the cross and I know it was the blood for me.”

It continues for many verses about the different things Jesus endures during his crucifixion. We noticed that many verses were similar to the sufferings that they endured as slaves. These songs gave our ancestors the strength to persevere through the torture of their slave masters. Our people created these invisible churches that now stems into our bible study every Wednesday night. The way they used these spirituals is exemplified in the way that we function as a people now. We never realized that their use of music is deep rooted within us. They used this music to feel. This is evident in the way that we function. We similarly use music to process different situations. In churches the deacons start with hymns to open service and the music from the choir is used to set the tone.  We have praise breaks and the musicians usually play along with the pastor during the pinnacle of his sermon. None of this is coincidental, however it’s so much a part of us that we don’t even think about it. White people not letting us be a part of their churches is one of the best things they could have ever done for us. This allowed us to continue our traditions and praise our God in the way we see fit. Every spiritual helping us to feel the emotions of our ancestors.

Food for thought

We come from a people who worked in the fields sun up to sun down and still came to praise God all night. If this was possible for them, why is our generations church attendance so low?

CandaceAlise

CandaceAlise

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