He could have let me drown

Gospel music can be an extremely broad term.  Most of the attention is focused on music that sprung from the early African-American church and inspired a host of modern day choirs and contemporary gospel/R&B sounds.  [Black] Gospel Music and soul music are inextricably linked from the smooth sounds of Sam Cooke to the dancing, acrobatic vocals of Kirk Franklin, gospel music does more than just sound sweet–it literally moves its listeners. Whether it’s swaying with the choirs, tapping along with the quartets, or simply raising hands to the rhythm of soul-stirring crooners, gospel is one genre of music that needs to be both seen and heard. Once narrowly defined as religious, gospel has transcended those limits to become a profound force in American music and popular culture.

Gospel music has a history which can be traced to the 18th century.  During this time, hymns were lined and repeated in a call and response fashion and the spirituals/ work songs came on the scene.  Enslaved Africans attended their masters’ worship services, which was the main influence on spirituals and work songs.  At these services they would grow closer in their understanding of Christian doctrine and role that music played in that experience. The worship music (hymns) of the masters became the backdrop for the music the enslaved Africans would use at their eventual worship meetings. As we listen to gospel music today with its sometimes downtrodden themes, it continues to be curious how such beauty and richness can emanate from troubled times.

In the tradition of the [black] church, call and response in singing and in speaking has been and continues to be a foundation on which the gospel is delivered. Through this participatory delivery system beliefs are reinforced. There is an expectation that when there is agreement with either the spoken word or song because of either its content or its contexts that verbal affirmation will be given. Those who are witnessing, speaking, or singing are encouraged by the responses and those who are about to experience issues are empowered to be victorious.

Gospel music can stir many different emotions. The audience for this spiritually moving idiom continues to grow as do the types of venues where it can be heard.  Gospel singers and listeners, making a joyful noise to the Lord is what the music is about and it invites the participation of all to come together, honor the past, look forward to the future, and through song, renew our faith.

Check out a great example below:


About Jon Nelson

I am just a nobody trying to tell everybody about Somebody [Christ Jesus]!

Posted on April 4, 2011, in ...from Jon, Music, Slavery, Theology. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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