The Negro Spiritual

This subject is burning in me to blog about. The end of January my friend, Terry, said to me, “February is Black History Month. We need to do dome spirituals.” I actually started it out today. In church I can only tell a little of the story, but here, I can tell all!
I am pretty sure I have always been aware of the Negro spiritual, but it did not hit me with any kind of force until about 15 years ago. I was in the Cedar rapids, Iowa library settling down in a cozy chair under some headphones with a Jessye Norman CD of spirituals.  I think the first song was ‘Great Day” and I was pulled out of my seat and swept through the air! I remember looking around to see if anyone else noticed, but the library was going on as usual! As I listened, I read the liner notes and what impressed me was the note made that Negro Spirituals were typically songs of hope and deliverance. They can be my song, too, as I understand that sin is slavery and Jesus has come to be our Hope and Deliverer. The other thing that impresses me about this legacy is that these people are not known for sitting around and discussing how there could be a good God when their lives are so miserable. Their theme is. “This world is not my home, I ‘m just a passin’ through; If Heaven’s not my home, then Lord, what will I do?”.
I’m also reminded of a young friend serving on a Mercy Ship and writing about all the music around him where they were docked in an African country. The jist of what he said  was , ‘No matter the misery around them, there is always singing.’ And then there were Paul and Silas in the Philippian jail, beaten and locked up, singing the night away. And then there was my sister, who planned to sing a hymn on the way home after dropping her Navy husband at the ship to go on a cruise weeks short of their first anniversary. We have got choices. We can cry or we can sing. Steal away to Jesus. That is the legacy of the Negro Spiritual.


3 thoughts on “The Negro Spiritual

  1. Hey Melinda,

    Did you know that many of these songs were literally directions for the underground railroad pathways. A lovely African American woman who was a colleague of mine in Minnesota told me all about them one day when we were studying black history month with our kids (I always called the kids who lived there my kids since God had given them to me). I have now read about this and been told this by others. I find it fascinating how glorified God is by singing songs of deliverance and providing physical deliverance for many of these slaves who already had been delivered spiritually.

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