Skip to main content

Gospel: A Living Musical Tradition

The Negro Spiritual is a continuation of an African musical tradition that includes songs of praise, work songs, mourning songs and songs of ridicule. The Spiritual almost always laments earthly conditions and readily concedes to the need of spiritual deliverance to a state where all earthly troubles will cease. Reflecting the immediate concerns of the people who created it, the Spiritual is rarely a mere celebration of God's love, power or glory. In the African tradition--Spirituals had a social, educational and political function. They were employed to summon community worship, to instill Christian ethics into young children and to relay ...

Read Full Article

Support the Folklife Festival, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, sustainability projects, educational outreach, and more.