The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #76646   Message #1360582
Posted By: Azizi
18-Dec-04 - 03:09 PM
Thread Name: Alabama Slave Spiritual Music
Subject: RE: Alabama Slave Spiritual Music
I thought from reading his {or her} post that Lonesome EJ also wants inforamtion & examples of "Slave Spirituals that are versions of, or have their roots in, white church music of this or preceding eras". Does the African American Spirituals Permathreads or other Threads allow for the dicussion of this?

Masato, I copied quite a few pages of Slave Song of the United States from my local library, and unless I missed it, the authors indicate the states from which these songs come, but do not mention Alabama.

Briefly scanning those "zeroxed" pages, I found one example of a spiritual that these authors wrote is at least partly based on a "familiar Methodist hymn" . The authors note that "The second part of this spiritual ["Go In The Wilderness" {#19}] is the familiar Methodist hymn "Aint I Glad I Got Out Of The Wilderness!" and may be the originial. The first part is very beautiful, and appears to be peculiar to the Sea Islands." I'm unfamiliar with both the Methodist hymn they refer to and this spiritual. The spiritual may not be performed in call & response pattern.

[WYSIWYG, my apologies if you already have this song listed.}

I wait upon de Lord,
I wait upon de Lord.
I wait upon de Lord, my God,
who take away de sin of the world.
1. If you want to find Jesus
   go in the wilderness,
   Go in the wilderness,
   go in de wilderness,
   Mournin' brudder,
   go in de wilderness.
   I wait upon de Lord.

2. {none given}
3. You want to be a Christian.
4. You want to get religion.
5. If you spec' to be converted
6. O weepin' Mary.
7. 'Flicted sister.
8. Say, ain't you a member?
9. Half-done Christian.
10.Come, backslider.
11.Baptist member.
12.O seek, brudder Bristol
13. Jesus a waitin' to meet you in de wilderness.

end of quote.

Probably after the line given in 3-13 one sings Go in de wilderness. The first verse [in that rendition on that given day] was probably
"I wait upon the Lord" and the second is "If you want to find Jesus".

"Go In The Wilderness" appears to be an open ended song in which any number of verses could be made up on the spot and names such as Brother Bristol used to personalize a verse.      

I believe that the main difference between African American & European American religious songs is the way that they are sung.
By this I mean syncopation, elongation of words {and other ways that singers putting their own flavor to the song};
call & response, personalizing the verses as in the above example, and having open ended verses {among other things}.