Folk Song Of The American Negro - Online Book

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been a most effective invitation to the black man. For who could possibly be more weary than he, who could possibly be more heavy laden, who could possibly enjoy rest more than he? To him this has always been a real invitation to a truly heavy-laden man. His reli�gion has always been a real power that relieves real burdens. Chris�tianity to him, has been more than religion, it has always been from the very first, an experience. The Spirit beareth witness with his spirit.
True it is that this "shouting" is sometimes overdone; sometimes it is spurious. Nevertheless it is most often a genuine expression of souls that are glad, glad in the living reality of a religion whose God lightens burdens and wipes sorrow's tear away; glad in the living assurance of an eternal life without burdens and without tears. It is natural and quite to be expected that the Negro should shout. His emotional nature has been so deeply wrought into for generations by bitter pangs of sorrow, that when he contemplates the promises of the Christian religion, he is wholly overcome and he expresses his ecstacy in "Glory! Hallelujah!"
With his transition from iifrican heathenism to American slavery, the Negro set up an altar dedicated to the God of love. Blessed phenomenon, under such circumstances to give up his gods and all his past for this new God. What wisdom! Slavery never begets love. The very thought of being owned is abominable. It is naturally a source of antipathy and animosity, hatred, revenge. It even some�times leads men to question the justice of the God who permits it. The human heart cannot perceive righteousness in being torn from those it loves, from the memories and attachments that make up the happiness of life, to be forced to labor hard and long that another may eat, rest, and be comfortable�yea, to suffer and die at the whim of a master. This is surely beyond a mortal's comprehension of justice. Still through all these crushing experiences, the Negro slave trusted God. What faith! The transcendent thought that there existed somewhere a trustworthy being who has promised never to forsake him, but to turn his sorrow into joy, has ever been enough to make him shout. This shouting has been and still is his means of expressing adoration; it has been also for all his pent-up emotion, a safety valve. Blessed be Providence that taught him to shout. This "shouting" is in no wise essential to religion, though it is often an evidence of it. Measured by the standard of Christanty, how does