Negro spirituals is basically a term used to describe religious music that was derived from African-American slaves. The music came about through these slaves being introduced to European religion and then intermingling it with their unique African culture as a means to escape their emotional turmoil. These sacred laments are exclusive to the US where on the whole slaves chose to adapt their beliefs to Christianity. |
This music was an integral part of African-American slaves' lives; it allowed them a way to express grief, hope, pain, joy and sadness. Moreover, they were tales of the journey of individuals during these difficult times, but they were mostly songs of hope and a belief in something better. The introduction of Christianity to the many slaves enabled them to find peace and hope in their dreams of one day being freed from slavery.
Music has always been the way in which Africans have expressed emotion and also a way in which their rich cultural beliefs and history are remembered. Music, dance and song have always formed an important part of African native rituals. Traditionally, chanting and drums are incorporated into wedding, healing and numerous other customary ceremonies; repetitive chanting as well as the use of drums is utilized in these rituals to create trance like states during the proceedings.
However, this African-American music was used to inspire hope into these people's hearts and gave them a much needed method of coping with the situation that they were all faced with. Hope is a very powerful emotion and thus it was also the main message found in this music. What makes many of these songs interesting is the fact that they portray the culture of the African people.
It was not until the 1960s when Civil Rights movement was in full swing that many of these songs started to take on specific meanings. Even long after this era, these spiritual songs can be identified with by many different individuals. In fact several of them have become popular folk songs for Americans, as they represent the journey and growth of the country.
Rhythms used directly link to the cultural African background; while the lyrics showcase the difficulties that were faced. Lyrics spoke of faith in Christ as well as freedom. Individuals could speak about experiences via songs; this is a world wide practice, used for many years.
Although there are many of these songs that are well known two that one can safely assume everybody, regardless of religion, will recognize are "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" and "Amazing Grace". In fact these are almost iconic to the Christian faith. The haunting lyrics portray the hope and deep longing for a better place.
Many historians have indicated that in several ways these Negro spirituals, Jubilees or African-American slave music have enriched the American culture. One certainty is that they define the rise of African-Americans within America. They give us an understanding of what these people went through and their triumphs.
When you are hunting for a selection of Negro spirituals, go to our home pages here today. You can see more lyrics and music at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnqPUcFRD6A now.
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