Saturday, June 20, 2020
I have enjoyed reviewing early American literature this week. What has become known as Spirituals became an integral part of worship for African slaves in the pre-Civil War South. These songs came out of plantations and manor houses. They were influenced by the surrounding conditions in which the slaves lived. Those conditions were negative and degrading, to say the least; yet, miraculously, a body of about 6,000 independent Spirituals exist today.
The Spirituals speak of life and death, suffering and sorrow, love and judgment, grace and hope, justice and mercy; they are the songs of a people weary at heart. Here are a few lines:
I’ve got shoes, you’ve got shoes, all of God’s children got shoes. When I get to heaven goin’ to put on my shoes, goin’ to walk all over God’s heav’n.
He’s got the whole world in His hands, He’s got the little bitty baby in His hand, He’s got the whole world in His hands.
Gimme dat ole-time religion, gimme dat ole-time religion, It’s good enough for me.
Nobody knows the trouble I see.
O Lord, I couldn’t hear nobody pray.
Oh, rise and shine an’ give God de glory, glory.
Joshua fit de battle of Jericho.
Do Lord, do Lord, Lord, remember me.
There is a balm in Gilead, to make the wounded whole, there is a balm In Gilead to heal the sinsick soul.
This little light of mine, I’ll let it shine.
These beautiful Spirituals have added so much to the worship of all Christian peoples through the ages.