Negro spirituals were profoundly influenced both by the African origins of the singers and by the nature of slavery itself. Music permeated every part of African culture from birth to death, and continued to have a powerful, healing role among the people brought to America against their will. The influence of African music on spirituals can be seen in the many elements they have in common, as well as in a diversity that reflects individual tribal influences. Of these songs, famed scholar and collector Natalie Curtis-Burlin wrote, "The Negro spirituals rank with the great folk-music of the world, and are among the loveliest of chanted prayers."
This anthology features complete lyrics to 178 of the best-loved spirituals, including such lasting favorites as "Balm in Gilead," "Deep River," "Down by the Riverside," Ezekiel Saw the Wheel," "Gonna Shout All Over God's Heaven," "He's Got the Whole World in His Hand," "Roll, Jordan, Roll," "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child," "Steal Away to Jesus," "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," "This Train," "We Are Climbing Jacob's Ladder," "Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?" and many more. An excellent source of familiar song lyrics ideal for sing-alongs, community programs, church functions, and other events, this handsome collection will provide readers and singers alike with hours of pleasure.