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Spiritual Songs

Usually taken as meaning the Songs originally sung by Black American Slaves - the Negro Spiritual. The songs have a particular style which has influenced other singers and songwriters. They were a way of expressing Christian Faith often linked with hardship or suffering but some are upbeat and became increasingly so after emancipation. In the lyrics of many spiritual songs are the coded desires of freedom and dignity so that singing them was an act of rebellion.

It is a genre that has influenced Blues, Gospel, Folk and popular music.

The origin lies in African Music and was very rhythmic and physical including 'shouts' which the Christian ministers tried to ban.

Typical spritual songs:

  • Wade in the Water
  • Steal Away
  • Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
  • Amazing Grace

Examples of popular songs influenced by the spiritual:

  • Let it be
  • Imagine
  • Stairway to Heaven
  • Suzanne