Music has been the lynch pin to worship since the beginning of time. Through the years the Black church has always been a place of refuge, support and direction has always been the faith.
The churches and choir masters and leaders have always been charismatic, creative voices who set history aflame with new innovative thinking and challenging growth. Music has always been the key that held our communication system together.
During slavery, many slaves were stripped of their African belief systems and typically denied free religious practice, forced to become Christian. Slaves managed, however, to hang on to some practices by integrating them into Christian worship in secret meetings. These practices, including dance, shouts, African rhythms, and enthusiastic singing, remain a large part of worship in the African American church. The African American church focused on the message of equality and hopes for a better future. Some of the greatest Christian Spirituals were in fact born of the drive and communication.
Many of them have been performed and interpreted in dance, hip hop, pop and jazz versions. In the later years the struggle for equality and basic civil rights and strong identity bore a new crop of music that expresses the modern day trials and tribulations.
Here is a list of the Greatest 8 Spirituals of All Time.
# 8 – “Wade in the Water”- was first in New Jubilee Songs as Sung by the Fisk Jubilee Singers (1901) by John Wesley Work II and his brother, Fredericka J. Work. The main chorus is: Wade in the water./ Wade in the water children. Wade in the water./ God’s gonna trouble the water.The song relates to both the Old and New Testaments. The verses reflect the Israelites escape out of Egypt as found in Exodus:14. The chorus refers to healing: see John 5:4, “For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.”
#7- “Pass Me Not Oh Gentle Savior”- is a 19th Century American hymn written by Francis J. Crosby in 1868 (lyrics) and William H. Doane in 1870 (music). It is the plea to be remembered during trials and tribulations and is the cry The main chorus is: Savior, Savior, hear my humble cry; while on others thou art calling, do not pass me by.
#6- “Soon and Very Soon”- lyrics and music written by Andraé Crouch. The lyrics of the song proclaim the promise of Heaven and the Salvation . Singing “Soon and Very Soon We Are Going to See The King reminds us that we are destined for another place. It was the entrance song used in the Memorial of Michael Jackson
#5- “Going Up Yonder”- lyrics and Music written by Walter Hawkins reminds that we can manage no matter what problem we face
#4- “Amazing Grace Amazing Grace“ is a Christian hymn written by English poet and clergyman John Newton (1725–1807), published in 1779. With a message that forgiveness and redemption are possible regardless of the sins people commit and that the soul can be delivered from despair through the mercy of God, “Amazing Grace” is one of the most recognizable songs in the English-speaking world.
#3- “Bless The Lord”- lyrics and music written by Andraé Crouch. It is simply put a praise a worship song based on the Psalm of David 103:1-5.
#2-“I Want Jesus to Walk With Me”- The song written by Edward Boatner for Marian Anderson is affirmation that we are not on the journey of life alone. The chorus “Well, I want Jesus / Whilst walk with me / Yes, I want Jesus / Walk with me / Whilst I’m on this tedious journey /
#1- “His Eye Is On The Sparrow“- Although today it is a staple of African-American worship services, the song was originally written in 1905 by two white songwriters, lyricist Civilla D. Martin and composer Charles H. Gabriel. The song is most associated with actress-singer Ethel Waters who used the title for her autobiography.
There are many songs that could be added to this list such as “Praise God From Whom All the Blessings Flow”, “Only This I Want”.
What is your favorite?”