Negro Spirituals, Songs That Were Pleas To Our Creator For Deliverance From Our Captivity
Most people have heard of Negro Spirituals and how the Africans brought over to the Americas by ships as slaves, sang songs describing their desire for deliverance from their captors.
Many of the songs were derived from stories directly from the bible. That was no coincidence, these slaves were directly linked to the people in the book called The Holy Bible. Their enslavement fit the prophecies mentioned in the bible.
Deut.28:49,50,68-"the Lord (Yahweh) shall bring a nation against you from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flies; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand; v.50-A nation of fierce countenance, who shall not regard the person of the old, nor show favor to the young, v.68-And (the Lord)Yahweh shall bring you into Egypt again with ships, by the way whereof I spoke unto you...and there you shall be sold unto your enemies for male and female slaves, and no man shall buy you."
This verse is portraying a second Israelite slavery to a nation called Egypt (Egypt was the most prominent nation in the world as America is today). This was a slavery where it was prophesied that no one will redeem (buy or rescue) the captives out of slavery.
While living in Ghana I was able to visit some of the
historic slave castle dungeons that dotted the coast of West Africa. Cape Coast and Elmina (the native Fante name is Edina)were major transit points in the slave trade. In fact Ghana as a whole was the major gateway for the slave trade. There are a total of 45 slave castle dungeons on the coast of West Africa with 33 of them in Ghana.
Ghana is probably the smallest of all the West African nations but had the most slave trading traffic. While living in West Africa I couldn't help but be reminded of what happened to my ancestors during the slave trade. One of my favorite songs
that remind me of our Negro Spirituals is the song Amazing Grace. There is an amazing story behind this song.
Hear a live performance (at The Kelly Strayhorn Theater)of "Amazing Grace" from the "Let's Rise Again-ABABIO" Performance Series.
The author of the words to Amazing Grace was a slave ship owner named John Newton. While on the high seas a horrific storm threatened to destroy the ship and kill everyone on board. The ship captain was advised by one of the slaves that if he wanted to survive the storm he would have to tie himself to the mast. He explained that no one can survive a storm on the high seas unless they were tied down. In order to survive, everything and everyone had to be tied down. The ship master finally agreed to have himself tied to the mast and survived the storm. He was so grateful that he vowed never to be involved in the slave trade again.
John Newton became an abolitionist fighting to dismantle the institution of slavery. He composed the words to the song Amazing Grace and the music (listed as unknown) was composed of notes from the African Scale. Most negro spirituals were composed of the African scale which most musicians in the Western Hemisphere know as the pentatonic scale. This scale is played with all black keys on the piano. Most negro spirituals can be played with just the piano's black keys. Isn't that amazing.
Look for more in the future on this web site about Negro Spirituals. We look forward to also hearing from you on this subject.