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The term has mostly been used to indicate a religious Negro folk-song, originating firstly in the South of the United states during the slavery period. Although born in slavery its traditions have been continued and the Spiritual as a musical genre continues to this day.
According to noted Negro musician Dr. Melville Charlton, organist of the Union Theological Seminary at New York for 18 years, "a Spiritual is in a specific sense as an American Negro religious folk-song." He would also include any Negro religious song, not composed, in this category. J. Rosamond Johnson, who has studied, sung and composed the music of his race very extensively, defines a Spiritual as "an American Negro folk-song, who's rhythm derived from the African tom-tom beat, with the substance of its text based on prayer and religious fervour; set to the characteristic musical cadence of Negro melody." His brother, James Weldon Johnson, who wrote a very understanding and instructive preface to Mr. Johnson's collection of Spirituals, puts it in slightly different words when he writes, "They are religious folk-songs origi- nated by the Negro in the South and used strictly for purposes of religious worship." Harry T. Burleigh, who is equally well known as a composer and as soloist of St. George's Church, New York, defines a Spiritual as follows:
"The plantation songs known as Spirituals are the spontaneous outpourings of intense religious fervour and have their origin chiefly in camp-meetings, revivals, and other religious exercises. They were never composed but sprang into life ready made from the heat of religious fervour, during some protracted meeting in camp or church, as the simple, ecstatic utterance of wholly untutored minds, and are practically the only music of America which meets the scientific definition of folk-song." Mr. Burleigh then goes on to state that deep spirituality and rhythm are essential components and makes the rather impressive statement that the voice is not so important as the spirit.
It would appear from these various definitions that there are several fundamental properties of the Spiritual, namely: origin among Southern Negro folk, that it shall have grown up uncomposed, its subject matter religion, and possessed of much fervour; a characteristic melody; its rhythm based on the native African tom-tom beat and finally, that it should be the spontaneous outpouring of the spirit. They are suited to communal singing, often use a call-and-response structure, with between the leader and the group.
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|Aint Going To Tarry Here Aint Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Roun Aint Got Time To Die Hall Johnson Aint That Good News All Gods Chillun Got Wings All I Do, The Church Keep A Grumbling Almost Done Toiling Here Amen A Little Talk With Jesus Babylons Falling(2) Babylons Falling Beams Of Heaven (someday) Before Id Be A Slave William E Barton Blow Your Trumpet, Gabriel Bound For Canaan Land Bound To Go Bow Low, Mary Buked And Scorned Bye And Bye Changed Mah Name Children Go Where I Send Thee Children We All Shall Be Free City Called Heaven Climbin Up D Mountain Come Down, Angel Come Down Come Go With Me Come Here Jesus, If You Please Come Here Lord Come Unto Me Cry Holy Daniel Saw The Stone Deep River Dese Bones Gwine Rise Again Dey Crucified My Lord De Angel Roll De Stone Away De Blind Man Stood On De Road En Cried Didnt My Lord Deliver Daniel Didnt Old Pharaoh Get Lost Did Your Hear My Jesus Do, Lord, Remember Me Dont Be Weary, Traveler Dont You Let Nobody Turn You Roun Down By The Riverside Down By The River Side Down In The Valley Do Lord Remember Me Dry Bones(2) Dry Bones (1) Dry Bones (third Version) Early In The Morning Every Dayll Be Sunday Evry Time I Feel De Spirit(2) Evry Time I Feel De Spirit Ezekiels Wheel Ezekiel Saw The Wheel Fare Ye Well Free At Last(2) Free At Last (1) Get Away Jordan Git Yo Ticket Give Me Jesus(2) Give Me Jesus (1) Give Me That Old Time Religion Give Me Your Hand Glory, Glory, Hallelujah Going Home Going To Set Down Going To Shout All Over Gods Heaven Good Morning Everybody Good News Got My Letter Go Down, Moses Go Down Moses(2) Go Down Moses (1) Go In The Wilderness Great Day|
There are also many other Christian pieces on this site which are included with other collections, e.g. the Children's Songs section contains quite a few.