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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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|Hail Mary Hangman Johnny Hard Trials Heaven Is A Beautiful Place Hes Got The Whole World In His Hands Hes The Lilly Of The Valley Hes The Lily Of The Valley He Never Said A Mumbling Word Hide A Me His Eye Is On The Sparrow Hold On Hold The Wind, Dont Let It Blow Hold The Wind Hold Your Light Holy Baby (i Shall Send Thee) Holy Bible Holy I Got Over Humble Yourself, The Bells Done Ring If I Have Mah Tickit Lawd Ill Be Sleepin In Mah Grave Im A Rollin Im An Everyday Witness Im A Rollin Im Going To Join The Band Im Going Up Im Gwine Up To Heaven Anyhow Im Runnin On Im So Glad Trouble Dont Last Always Im Troubled In Mind Int That Good News J W Work In Bright Mansions Above In Dat Great Gittin Up Mornin(2) In Dat Great Gittin Up Mornin In The Army Of The Lord In The Morning In This Field It May Be De Las Time Ive Been Buked An Ive Been Scorned Ive Got Peace Like A River I Aint Gonna Grieve My Lord No More I Am A Poor Wayfaring Stranger I Am Free I Am Seeking For A City I Believe Ill Go Back Home I Cant Stay Behind I Couldnt Hear Nobody Pray I Found Jesus Over In Zion I Got A Hidin Place I Got A Home In That Rock I Got A Key To The Kingdom I Got Mah Swoad In Mah Han I Heard From Heaven Today I Know Moon Rise I Mean To Lift Up A Standard For My King I Must Walk My Lonesome Valley I Shall Not Be Moved I Stood On The River Of Jordan I Stood Outside The Gate I Wanta Live So God Can Use Me I Want Jesus To Walk With Me I Want To Be Ready Jesus Gonna Jesus On The Waterside Jesus With Us John Done Saw Dat Numbuh John Saw John Saw The Holy Number John The Revelator Joshua Fit De Battle Of Jericho Joy To The World Jubilee Judgment Judgment Day Is A Rolling Around Keep Me From Sinking Down King Jesus Is A Listening Kum Ba Yah (come By Here) Kum Ba Yah Come By Here|
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.