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Where Spirituals Were “Sang”

Spirituals

Invisible Church

Background

After years of being enslaved, and generations transcending, African Americans began to pay particular attention to religion. Upon being brought from their African homeland to the Americas, Africans followed practices and rituals of their own. However, owners of the enslaved did not appreciate such a form of religious independence.Therefore, because African Americans lived on the owners land and had to abide by their rules, African Americans were given no other option than to practice Christianity.

What is Christianity and How does it relate?

Christianity is a religion based on the person and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, or its beliefs and practices. In times of enslavement, Christianity was before practiced in a different way than now developed.

Because Christianity wasn't Africans original religion, they first viewed it as "the white man's religion." Therefore, because they were forced to make it their own. African Americans began to create and develop their own ways of worship and understanding within Christianity.

Africans Americans creation included a divine spiritual touch. To begin worshiping on their own, they held "meetings" in the woods, private sessions in their cabins, and whisper sessions to practice their new found form of religion by singing spirituals.

This Created... Invisible Church

These special spiritual meetings were held in "Invisible Church." Invisible church were the sites where the enslaved worshiped in secret, often in defiance of laws that prohibited their assemble without white supervision. Such assemblies housed the singing of Negro Spirituals. Invisible Churches taught a different message from white controlled churches and did not emphasize obedience. Some slaves could not contact Invisible Churches and others did not agree with the Invisible Church message but many slaves were comforted by the Invisible Churches.

Negro Spirituals were not regular songs. They were rhythmic, and embodied the true meaning of soul. Many spirituals were conducted with call-response techniques, while some were solo or polyrhythmic. Essentially, they were the ways that black people could pour out their emotions and feelings. Spirituals are special to the culture of black music. Without spirituals, the development of Soul, Gospel, and R&B may have been different. All together, Invisible Church and Negro Spirituals were important the the development of black people's forms of expression. Many great things were created following this new found religion. Invisible Church allowed for Negro Spirituals to establish the base of many genre's of music created by African Americans in modern day.

Roll Jordan Roll is a popular Negro Spiritual. This song has featured in many movies and documentaries to effectively describe what a Negro Spiritual embodies. Here are the lyrics for Roll Jordan Roll:


Went down to the river Jordan, where John baptised three Well I walked to the devil in hell sayin John ain't baptise me I say; Roll, Jordan, roll Roll, Jordan, roll My soul arise in heaven, Lord for the year when Jordan roll Well some say John was a baptist some say John was a Jew But I say John was a preacher of God and my bible says so too I say; Roll, Jordan, roll Roll, Jordan, roll My soul arise in heaven, Lord for the year when Jordan roll Roll, Jordan, roll Roll, Jordan, roll My soul arise in heaven, Lord for the year when Jordan roll Alleluja! Roll, Jordan, roll Roll, Jordan, roll My soul arise in heaven, Lord for the year when Jordan roll (everybody says) Roll, Jordan, roll Roll, Jordan, roll My soul arise in heaven, Lord for the year when Jordan roll Roll, Jordan, roll Roll, Jordan, roll My soul arise in heaven, Lord for the year when Jordan roll Roll, Jordan, roll Roll, Jordan, roll My soul arise in heaven, Lord for the year when Jordan roll

Some famous Negro Spirituals sang in invisible church are Go Down Moses, Swing Low Sweet Chariot, Steal Away, and Roll Jordan Roll.

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