Why do you think abolitionists wrote down and published slave songs? What do you think the river Jordan and rising to heaven are metaphors for? Availabile on Spotify and YouTube. View the music and lyrics for "Roll, Jordan, Roll. The source of the spiritual was an earlier song by English Methodist preacher Charles Wesley — Perhaps the grandest singing we heard was at the Baptist church on St. Helena Island, when a congregation of three hundred men and women joined in a hymn—. It swelled forth like a triumphal anthem. That same hymn was sung by thousands of negroes on the 4th of July last, when they marched in procession under the Stars and Stripes, cheering them for the first as the 'flag of our country. The song's popularity was furthered by the Fisk Jubilee Singers, who performed it on national and international tours.
About the Author
Throughout the book, each chapter begins with an excerpt from a work of Western literature and then two bars from an untitled slave song. Therefore, the stories told by these songs are clearly critiques of slavery and white oppression. Instead, an English Methodist preacher named Charles Wesley wrote the original composition in the 18 th century as Christian gospel music. The title is the first indication of the biblical roots of the song. By crossing the river, the enslaved Israelites escaped the oppression of the Egyptians and became a free people under God. In other words, the souls of the Israelites are destined for Heaven after they crossed the Jordan River. How did a distinctly religious song become synonymous with American slavery? As a consequence, slave-owners introduced music of the Christian tradition to their slaves, in hopes of reinforcing the power dynamic between slave and master.
Marion Kilson, Eugene D. New York: Pantheon Books. Most users should sign in with their email address.
This landmark history of slavery in the South--a winner of the Bancroft Prize--challenged conventional views of slaves by illuminating the many forms of resistance to dehumanization that developed in slave society. Rather than emphasizing the cruelty and degradation of slavery, historian Eugene Genovese investigates the ways that slaves forced their owners to acknowledge their humanity through culture, music, and religion. Not merely passive victims, the slaves in this account actively engaged with the paternalism of slaveholding culture in ways that supported their self-respect and aspirations for freedom.