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When I was growing up, this genre was called Negro Spiritual.  I think it is more likely to be called a Spiritual now, but that assumes a person knows where it came from.

That body of work (spirituals) came from a group of people who knew the truth that this present life was NOT our final home.  There was coming a time when the trials and difficulties of this present time would end and we would be with the Lord.

The tunes are simple, but beautiful and rich.  I always find them very singable but not in a dull or boring way!  There is always a great beat somewhere there where you can move…or if inclined, slide into the notes and roam a bit.

Spirituals were one of the beautiful gifts given to us from the ugly scar of slavery

Slavery was awful, there is no getting around it.  But there were beautiful things that came out of a very ugly, horrible scar on our nation’s history.  One of them is this music.

When I was a child in the 50’s, I think one the of the first times I heard this song, it was sung on the radio or a record by Marian Anderson.  She was the first black female opera singer and her voice was beautiful!  Sweet Little Jesus Boy.  It reminds me of the birth of Jesus in it’s rawest form, from the perspective of people who knew what it felt like to be treated unfairly…because of the color of their skin!  How unfair is that?  Before they even open their mouth or speak a word, they are judged.  That is a pain that is difficult to assuage.  These days it affects more than just African Americans.  Depending on the setting, many of us are affected by a judgement that Jesus lived with most of His life…not because of His skin color, but because of what he stood for.  Listen below to the beautiful rendition of this song by Charles Wesley Evans.

Sweet little Jesus Boy
They made You be born in a manger
Sweet little Holy chil’
Didn’t know who You was

Didn’t know You come to save us Lord
To take our sins away
Our eyes wus blind
We couldn’t see
We didn’t know who You was

Long time ago
You was born
Born in a manger low
Sweet little Jesus Boy

The worl’ treat You mean, Lord
Treat me mean too
But that’s how things are down here
We don’t know who you is.

You done tol’ us how
We’s a tryin’
Master, you done showed us how
Even when you wuz dyin’

Jus’ seems like we can’t do right
Look how we treated you
But please Sir, forgive us Lord
We didn’ know ’twas You.

Sweet little Jesus Boy
Born long time ago
Sweet little Holy chil’
An’ we didn’t know who You was

Negro Spiritual
 

 

Lyrical Grace

 

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