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Dear listers,

Thanks you so much to all that responded to my query of precise definitions
of the terms
- gospel
- spirituals
- negro spirituals
- white spirituals
- african-american spirituals

Well! My question seems to have been less trivial than I thought, as many of
you answered by putting a lot of precautions such as "one man's opinion" or
"there will be more authoritative answers"... Others wrote me that they were
impatient to get the summary... or wanted to have a discussion beginning on
Choraltalk (sorry for the latter, but if you have, as I do, to respond to
10-20 emails per day for the Musica International project and are doing this
in addition to your real job, it is impossible to be a subscriber of

So here comes a tentative summary, result of a rainy sunday afternoon.
Credits for this contribution are due to
(1) Jonathan Miller (Chicago) SingWow(a),
(2) Peter Schleif (St Anthony, MN) pschleif(a),
(3) David Griggs-Janower (Albany) janower(a),
(4) Bob Griffith (Memphis) discnews(a),
(5) Saundra Hall Hill (Los Angeles) DIVASAUN(a),
(6) Craig Hawkins craigchawkins(a),
(7) Timothy Olsen (NY) olsent(a),
(8) David W. McCormick (Richmond, VA) dmccorm(a)

As a preliminary :
>The Harvard New Dictionary of Music has some good distinctions on this.
Also check with the Grove American version. You are asking GREAT questions,
and please do not be surprised if the answers are very fuzzy! (1)

A) "Negro-spiritual", "african-american spiritual"
=================================================and "spiritual"
==============are synonyms. Additional synonyms are "African-American folk song"(4),
"afro-american spirituals" and "black spirituals".

Although the answers all agree on these terms, I mention several of them
here because they contain complementary historical or personal interesting

About the synonymy:

>I believe they were originally called Negro spirituals, and then when the
word "negro" became unacceptable, these works were called African-American
spirituals or, to avoid such an unwieldy name, just "spiritual" (3)

>ALL THE SAME THING (really!). Many people shun the term "Negro", as it
comes from an era in which American black people were still considered
sub-human and/or second- class citizens. In its place the term "African
American" became more accepted, as it more accurately focused on the
geographic origin (Africa) rather than on color (Negro=black)--incidently,
"black" encompasses all black people, not just African Americans). Its
interesting to note that the black race has been the only group
anthropologists labeled by color, "Negro"--all other groups have been
referred to by geographic origin (5)

>It's part of the angst of how to speak of persons of African heritage in
the U.S. The most recent - and therefore the "most acceptable" term seems to
be African-American, which will have to serve until the next "politically
correct" term comes along! (8)

I must add here that these terms are only known in the non-english speaking
countries as "negro-spirituals", without any "political background" (for
those who want to print programs for touring in Europe, for instance).

Definitions of these terms:

>They are usually considered to be songs which arose out of slavery, and are
direct descendents of African folk music. Characteristics include limited
texts - often many stanzas where only a few words are different from other
stanzas -, therefore much repetition; more often than not with a refrain,
stemming from the African call-and-response. Texts are often derived from
Old Testament stories, and we are coming to realize that many of them were
secret "signal songs," telling the slaves when the next escape attempt was

>SPIRITUAL (pre-1900)- Sacred slave (folk) song, conceived during the years
of the slave era in America (late 1600's through 1860's), and passed on by
oral tradition. These songs were often called "sorrow songs" because many of
them express the lamentations of Africans kidnapped from their motherland
and brought to America to a horrible life of slavery. With every aspect of
their culture stripped from them, the Africans adapted their new "language"
and religion into what would eventually be called the spiritual. Not until
the Fisk Jubilee Singers toured the U.S. and Europe in the late 1800's,
singing these songs, were they ever written down or arranged. Many blacks
had regarded them as songs from a time they wished to forget, but the world
was hungry to hear them. Since then, they have been published, recorded and
performed as standard repertoire for many choral organizations. (5)

>You should check out Eileen Southern's "Music of Black Americans" (3rd ed.,
W.W. Norton, NYC, 1997). On p. 180: "It is not known precisely when the
term spiritual was first used in print to apply to the religious folksongs
of the black American. Obviously, the term points back to the three species
of sacred song early set up in the history of Protestantism--psalms, hymns,
and spirituals--which, in turn, points to the Scriptures, Col. 3:16...."
Basically, a spiritual is a rural religious folksong of anonymous origin,
often with some kind of biblical reference. Songs that have been arranged
for choirs are sometimes called "concert spirituals". The Fisk Jubilee
Singers were the first to popularize the concept of performing spirituals in
a concert--as opposed to a private--setting. (7)

B) White-spiritual:
=================Here the definitions become more unprecise and are even diverging for their
origin; moreover I see some mixture with the definition of "white gospel"
(see below). So I am still unclear about this term, and examples may be
necessary to understand better:

>"White spiritual" is sometimes used to refer to sacred pieces from the
white church tradition, sometimes called hymns, though they aren't the same
as what we think of as hymns. I suspect they are old songs, like folk
songs, but sacred. Lots of what I call white spirituals are old appalachian
sacred works, or all that stuff that Shaw-Parker arranged.(3)

>White spirituals generally connote religious folk songs from the southern
part of the United States. They are usually modal, frequently pentatonic,
and sometimes have traceable roots in the British Isles.(8)

>WHITE SPIRITUAL - Although I have very limited knowledge in this area, it
was always my understanding that this was a composed hymn tune sung in white
rural churches and religious camp or "tent" meetings widely held in the
1800's. Some people feel that since whites were not slaves, there is really
no such thing as a white spiritual. (5)

>I've never encountered the term "white spiritual" but there certainly is
"white gospel"--it's gospel sung by white people... (7)

C) Gospel:
========>**There is no short definition for gospel music, no more than there is a
short definition for classical music. For greater detail, read The Gospel
Sound written by Tony Heilbut. It's a great comprehensive text on gospel

After reading the messages, there seems actually to be 2 kinds of gospels:
"white" and "black". They are late 19th or 20th century compositions whereas
spirituals come from slavery period (except of course the choral
arrangements that are a 20th century evolution):

>a stylistic word, usually associate with a piece for choir, soloist, and
often piano (2)

>GOSPEL (1900-present). Composed, sacred songs whose style developed in the
early 1900's. At first, many black churches of the time considered it "the
devil's music" because it employed elements of secular music forms such as
the blues, early jazz, and other popular idioms of the time. Gospel music
also contains many elements of the Spiritual: sacred text, syncopation, call
and response. By the 1920's, its popularity had grown, especially after
Thomas A. Dorsey, an ex-jazz musician turned church musician and composer,
revolutionized its development, and turned it into a marketable commodity by
publishing and recording it. Gospel music developed through each decade
into many genres (20s-30s focused on the solo gospel singer; 40's focused on
male quartets; late 40's and 50's focused on male and female trios/quartets
and radio choirs; 60's and 70's on mass choirs; the 80's and 90's have
brought just about every possibility with the incorporation of new secular
styles (rock, country/ western, hip-hop, rap, new age, etc.) (5)

>The understanding of Gospel is not as clear. There are white gospel songs,
again almost always with refrains, simple harmonies and repetitious rhythms,
which arose out of the 19th century evangelistic meetings (often called
campmeetings, because they were held in a large tent or other rustic
enclosure in a camp ground.)
Black gospel - which is probably what most people think of when they hear
the term "gospel" - has many of the same characteristics, in some cases
having arisen from the same source, but it is also heavily influenced by the
"blues." Whether the blues originated in a sacred or very secular setting
may be argued, but there certainly has been a lot of cross-fertilization.
Today's black gospel usually has a very heavy beat, a driving piano style
bass, repetition ad infinitum, and a lot of opportunity for soloistic
improvisational singing. There are many "gospel style" pieces being
composed today, whereas the spirituals seem to be a fairly stable body of
material upon which new arrangements continue to be based.(8)

>Gospel hymnody is an urban development of the late 19th and 20th centuries,
employing piano and other vernacular instruments in tent-meetings,
pentecostal services, and actual concerts. Gospel's greatest early
exponents are the Rev. Charles Tindley, Lucie Campbell, and the famous
Thomas Dorsey (the first to use the term "gospel song"). As gospel has
progressed during the 20th century, it has incorporated all the features and
traditions of contemporary pop
styles--electric guitars, synthesizers, heavy syncopation, etc. (7)

Thank you again for all these very interesting answers. We will now be able
to clean out somehow this area in Musica and be able to take in (virtual)
hands the numerous people who are confusing all terms.
However, I am still not clear myself on "white spiritual"... Sound examples
should be of help. Any URLs?

Best regards,

* Jean Sturm *
* Musica International - Université de Strasbourg (France)*
* - Centre d'Art polyphonique d'Alsace - A Coeur Joie. *
* e-mail: sturm(a) *
* tel. office:(+33) 388 41 40 39 FAX: (+33) 388 61 12 72 *
* MUSICA International database : *
* Maison du Renard Prêchant, 7 rue des Balayeurs, *
* F-67000 Strasbourg. *
* - Centre d'Art Polyphonique d'Alsace: *
* *
* - A Coeur Joie France: *
* *
* - Ensemble Vocal ALLEGRO de Strasbourg: *
* *

Date: Sun, 17 Apr 1994 14:56:53 -0600
From: Roger Doyle
Subject: Re: Dawson

Apparently SOON-AH WILL BE DONE is a Dawson original composition. My
source, and one eveyone should have on the shelf, is......

BLACK AMERICAN MUSIC: Past and Present (Second Edition-1992)
by Hildred Roach
Pub: Krieger Publishing Company
Box 9542, Malabar, FL 32902-9542

You'll learn that Dawson was a very learned composer whose "Negro Folk
Symphony" in three movements was widely praised when completed in the
early 1930's. It was presented early on by The Phildelphia Orchestra
conducted by Leopold Stowkowski but I also know that in more recent years
Robert Shaw performed it several times with The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

Roger O. Doyle
University of Portland

On Fri, 15
Apr 1994, Chris Ryder wrote:

> My choir is working on "Soon-Ah Will Be Done" by William
> Dawson. Does anyone know the origin of this piece? Is it an
> arrangement of a spiritual, or did Dawson make it up? Just
> curious.

Date: Tue, 23 Aug 1994 13:01:27 -0600
From: Nina Gilbert
Subject: Drinkin' Gourd Follow-up

Last week I posted a question about codes in Spiritual texts. I had read
that "Follow the Drinkin' Gourd" was a secret "map song," suggesting that
people could "follow" the Big Dipper as they headed northward, and I
wondered if other Choralist subscribers knew further examples.

I received a few replies - some general ideas, some specific song
connections, and some suggestions of books - and a request to report
back to Choralist.

Here's what I've learned:

I. General:

Michael Shasberger (Butler University) made the general suggestion that
texts about journeys and such can be imaginatively traced to the
immediate idea of escape.

Also, I've seen suggestions that the "Jordan River" and "heaven" were
direct allegorical references to the Ohio River and Canada. References to
trains and chariots can also mean the Underground Railroad, of course,
although I don't know about more specific details.

II. Specific songs:

Mallorie Chernin (Amherst) and Joshua Golbert (Music Teacher,
Woodward Parkway Elementary School, Franklin Square NY) both
mentioned Jeanette Winter's book "Follow the Drinking Gourd" (Dragonfly
Books/Alfred Knopf). Joshua quotes the book:

"The drinking gourd is the Big Dipper, which points to the North Star.
'When the sun comes back and the first quail calls' meant spring, when
travel might be least hazardous. As the runaway slaves followed up
north, they would come across marks Peg Leg Joe had made in the
mud...and they would know they were on the right trail. The river that
'ends between two hills' was the Tombigbee River. The second was the
Tennessee River and the 'great big river' was the Ohio River, where Peg
Leg Joe would be waiting to ferry them to the free states".

Joshua adds,
According to Winter, Peg Leg Joe was a white man who helped the slaves
escape (left foot, peg foot, traveling on).

And Mallorie comments,
"Drinkin' gourd" we sing every Passover (freedom and all that).

Joan Sampson (The State Literacy Resource Center, Central Michigan
University) adds a possibility about another song:

I don't know if it is proven, but I have heard that "Michael
Row the Boat Ashore" is a specific reference to the New England
Abolitionist Movement of returning slaves to Africa (Liberia) in the
mid-1800's. The reference to "Sister" is the woman (I've forgotten her
name) who was active in the movement. I have also heard that many of
the references to dying and going to heaven are also code for freedom or
the North.

Cliff Ganus recalls:

We sang, a number of years ago, George Lynn's arrangement of "Little
black train," the refrain of which says, "Set your house in order, for the
train's gonna be here tonight." The verses refer to the 15-year extension
on life given to Hezekiah, and the arrival of the train ostensibly
represents death (in case any of the slaveowners were listening).

III. Books and Resources

Joan Sampson continues:

Ollie Davis from the University of Ill. would be an excellent resource for
such information.

Frank Albinder (Assistant Director, Chanticleer) had heard of one
reference, and says:

today, when I was in a used book store, [bought] "The Gospel Sound -
Good News and Bad Times" by Anthony Heilbut.

Frank comments:

Steal Away is about getting on the underground railroad.

And Vance Wolverton (Cal State Fullerton) suggests:

"Negro Spirituals/from Bible to Folksong," by Christa K. Dixon,
published in 1976 by Fortress Press of Philadelphia is quite helpful with
regard to allegories/imagery in this literature. ISBN 0-8006-1221-3.

Thanks to all the above for contributions (hope my quote-assembly does
you justice!). I'm still interested in this topic, and would be glad to learn


Nina Gilbert
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Nina Gilbert, Wabash College, Crawfordsville IN 47933 (USA)
phone/FAX 317-364-4299
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Date: Tue, 28 Mar 1995 10:56:49 -0800 (PST)
From: Roger Doyle
Subject: Re: Afro-American Music

There are, no doubt, other sources but you ought to begin with both of
the following. Indeed, you ought to add them to your own bookshelf.

Southern, Eileen. THE MUSIC OF BLACK AMERICANS: A History.
New York: W.W.Norton & Company. 1971/1983.
ISBN: 0-393-95279-7

Roach, Hildred. BLACK AMERICAN MUSIC: Past and Present.
Melbourne, FL: Krieger Publishing Co. 1992.
ISBN: 0-89464-580-3

When the books were written, Ms. Southern was affiliated with Harvard
University and Ms. Roach with the University of the District of Columbia.

Roger O. Doyle
University of Portland, OR

Date: Sun, 23 Apr 1995 23:34:50 -0700 (PDT)
From: Esther Mix
Subject: Re: Deep River

Sorry to be so long. The book is Negro Slave Songs in the
United States by M. M. Fisher (Russell & Russell 1968), literaly the
first book I picked up in the library but also the only one that lists
Deep River in the index.
" In a song called Deep River that originated in Guilford county,
NC where it was the name of both a body of water and of a meeting house
of quakers, a conservative slave told his quaker benefactor that he
wanted to `cross over' to africa, the home of camp meetings." (p41)
[the reference given is a ms. at Guilford College]

" [a letter] published in the report of the American Colonisation
Society...asked...`Do you not know that the land where you are is not
your own? Your fathers were carried into that to increase strangers'
traesure, but god has turned it all to good, that you may bring the
gospel into your country.' He added that negro ministers were not doing
the will of god by remaining in the US." (p43)

" Proslavery people tryed their hands at making
`spirituals'...Strangly enough, this song called the atlantic an
`ocean'. Previously , that body of water had been likened to the red
sea... the Jordan...but it was never an `ocean'." (p63)

Not exactly watertight reasoning but plausible enough. Of course
it would be nice to see the source material or at least more extensive
quotes, particularly from the ms. above, titled "minutes of the manumission
society of Northern Carolina". Anyone out there near Guilford?
I have a bit of general reading to catch up on. In the archives
books by Southern, Roach, and Dixon were recomended- are Epstein (Sinful
tunes & Spirituals) and Ricks (SOcial Implications...) valuable also?
The series title `Studies in 18th cent. Afro-american Music' on
LaBrew's "Black Musicians..."(1977) is intriguing as well- were there
ever other publications?

Richard Mix- emix(a)

Date: Tue, 24 Oct 1995 10:44:59 -0700 (PDT)
From: David Monk
Subject: spirituals summary

Hi choralisters,

Here is the summary of info I received about spirituals. Thanks to
everyone for their helpful posts.

Li-Wen Monk

FROM: Allen H Simon of Bay Area Lutheran Chorale
Spirituals were monophonic songs created by Negro (as they were called at the
time) slaves. Properly speaking, spirituals were only composed during the
period of American slavery; that's why many spirituals refer to Jewish
enslavement in Egypt; some have coded references to emancipation (crossing
the river, last train's a-comin', etc.)
When we perform a choral arrangement, we're singing a piece of art music
based on a spiritual theme. This is similar to performing a symphony
based on a folk tune; it's still a symphony, not a folk song. You're
singing a choral work, not really a spiritual. There are really no
performance practice considerations in the usual way, because spirituals
weren't intended for public performance; to be authentic, you should sing
them in unison while picking cotton.
This is not to say there aren't some audience expectations about spirituals,
based in part on stereotypes about black singers. It's up to you how to
address those.

FROM: Roger O. Doyle, University of Portland OR
Three books you ought to have on your shelf on this subject.

Johnson, James Weldon & J. Rosamond. AMERICAN NEGRO SPIRITUALS.
New York, NY: DaCapo Press 1989.

New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Co., 1983.

Malabar, FL: Krieger Pub. Co., 1992.
Perhaps the most impressive discussion was contained in a PBS
program of about five years ago ("The Songs Are Free") wherein Bernice
Johnson Reagan, a curator at the Smithsonian Institution is interviewed
by Bill Moyer. Ms. Reagan is a wonderful scholar but also the founder of
the female ensemble called Sweet Honey in the Rock. Get some of the
group's recordings and you'll also learn about the music.
Unfortunately, I'm afraid that the PBS program may no longer be available
for sale but try your best to find a "pirated" video of the program.
You'll learn more about the music than you can find time to put in effect.
If you can get a copy of the video, you'll probably want to show it to
your singers. It is rich in wisdom and history.

FROM: John Crever of Westminster Choir COllege, Princeton, NJ
One of the formost and intetesting persons to talk to about Af.Am.
Spirituals in America today os Bernice Johnson-Reagan, the founder and
leader of Sweet Honey and the Rock. You can write to her at the
Smithsonian Instute in Wash. DC. but a reply will take a year, literally,
she's really busy.
She has written on the issue quite a bit, but even better are the few
video clips of her.
Check out:
Music Educator's National Conference (MENC) videos on: Performing the
musics of the AMericas, 4 videos, one is a 40 minute talk given by
Bernice J-R. The best of all though is her interview with Bill Moyers
called: The Songs Are Free.
The only other that I can think of is of course Alice Parker, she deals
more with hymns and American Folkmusic in general, but from experience I
know that she has a lot to say.

Date: Mon, 25 Nov 1996 10:02:52 -0500
Subject: Re: steal away background

This is in response to the question regarding the African American spiritual,
Steal Away, the text of which is: stay here. My Lord calls me, he calls me by the thunder; the trumpet sounds
within-a my soul. I ain't got long to stay here.>

Although this song is sacred in nature, it can also be described as a
dual-message spiritual (or signal song). On one level, it's heard as evidence
of the slaves' resignation to be content by meditating and praying (stealing
away) to Jesus, who would pacify them through their hard times. Also, on the
surface, it expresses a realization that some slaves felt: there could be no
earthly reward to justify their horrible plight, and that they hoped their
prayers would hasten them to Heavenly peace. On the other hand, slaves who
were discontent with their misery, and intent on doing something "earthly"
about, used songs such as Steal Away to transmit "coded" messages to one
another: "steal" (run away), "to Jesus (the North U.S. or Canada, or some
passage via the Underground Railroad or other venue that would eventually get
the runaway to the North); "thunder" and "trumpet" -- some predesignated
physical symbol such as the ringing of a bell, a field holler, calling the
hogs, or whatever could be used in the midst of the unsuspecting slavemasters
or overseers.

Saundra Hall Hill

Date: Fri, 19 Dec 1997 21:56:24 -0500
From: Philip Kern
Subject: Spirituals - Compilation

Dear Choralisters:

Many, many thanks to all those who responded to my letter asking for
favorite spirituals. I was looking for works of moderate difficulty,
accompanied or not. I hope this list will be as useful to all of you as
it has been to me. Please enjoy.

Philip Kern
Assistant Professor of Music
Marian College
3200 Cold Springs Road
Indianapolis IN 46222

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ BEGIN COMPILATION ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

I'm a bit behind on digests, and you've probably had oodles of
but here I am anyway.

Here's a list of spirituals my choir has done in the past few years.
not pros at sight reading, so most of them are what you'd call
difficult. A few are a bit harder, and I've marked them with a star*. My

singers - and our audiences as well - have enjoyed all of them!

Bonnie Woolley
Director and founder of Voices Choeur International,
Paris, France

Ain't Got Time to Die
Hall Johnson
MCMLV; Schirmer octavo 10301

Ain't-a That Good News
William Dawson, arr.

All My Trials
Norman Luboff, arr.
1972, Walton Music Corporation

Couldn't Hear Nobody Pray
Hall Johnson, arr.

Daniel, Daniel, Servant of the Lord
Undine S. Moore, arr.
MCMLIII, M. Witmark & Sons ; ref: 21069-9

Deep River
Roy Ringwald, arr.
MCMXLVIII (renewed MCMLXXVI), Shawnee Press, Waring Choral Series

Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel
William Henry Smith, arr.
1938, Neil A. Kjos Music Co.; ref: 1014

Dis Ol' Hammer
Jester Hairston
1957, Bourne Co., NY; ref: 2784-8

Down By the Riverside
Kirby Shaw, arr.
Kirby Shaw Music - Hal Leonard 08666112

Elijah Rock
arr. Jester Hairston
Bourne Co. New York; B203737-357

Every Time I Feel the Spirit
arr. William Dawson
Music Press - Tuskegee Institute, AL; No. T117

Ezekiel Saw de Wheel
William L. Dawson, arr.
1942 (ren. 1969), Neil A. Kjos Music, Park Ridge, IL, 60068; ref: T110

Glory, Glory
H. Slattenhaar, arr.
Alkema's Muziekhandel - N° 423; tel: 050-20513

Great God A'mighty
Jester Hairston
1959, Bourne Co, NY; ref: 050476

Hear the Lambs a-Cryin'
Robert DeCormier, arr.
1989, Okemo Music, Lawson-Gould ; ref: 52526

Hold On!
Eugene Thamon Simpson, arr.
1974, Murbo Music Publishing, NY; ref: B223610-358

Hush, Somebody's Callin' My Name
Brazeal W. Dennard, arr.
MCMLXXXVI, Shawnee Press; ref: A-1802; Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania

I'm Goin' to Sing
Alice Parker, Robert Shaw, arr.
MCMLXIII, Lawson-Gould; ref: 51101

In That Great Gettin' Up Mornin'
Fenno Heath, arr.
1983, G. Schirmer; Octavo N° 12493

* Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho
Edwin Fissinger, arr.
411-10014; Jenson Publications

Keep Your Lamps!
André Thomas, arr.
HMC-577; Hinshaw Music; 1982

Kum Bah Yah
Hart Morris, arr.

Let Me Fly
Robert DeCormier, arr.
1984, Lawson-Gould ; ref: 52311

Live-a Humble
Jester Hairston, arr.
077796; Bourne Co., NY

Ride the Chariot
Patsy Simms, arr.
Coronet Press; Theodore Presser Company, Bryn Mawr, Penn. 19010; 1989

Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child
Jester Hairston, arr.
copyright 1952; Bourne Co., New York, NY

* Steal Away
William L. Dawson, arr.
1942 (ren. 1970), Kjos Music, IL; ref: T108

There Is a Balm in Gilead
arr. William Dawson
Music Press, Tuskegee Institute, AL;Neil A. Kjos;No. T 105

Turn Around
arr. Maurice Gardner
Staff Music Publishing Co.; No. 559

Were You There?
James Parks, arr.
Hal Leonard Sacred Choral Series; 1986

Who'll Be A Witness For My Lord
Jester Hairston, arr.
Bourne Co., NY


I don't know if this would count as a spiritual or not but it sure was
fun to sing!
"Walk Him Up the Stairs" from the musical "Purlie" is in a SATB
arrangement by "Bugs" Bower, published by Mourbar Music Corp.

Susan Clark


You might be interested in my Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, published by
Boosey and Hawkes (OCTB6739).

Best wishes in your search.

David L. Brunner
Director of Choral Activities
University of Central Florida
President, Florida ACDA


BEEN DOWN INTO THE SEA by Wayland Rogers
Boosey and Hawkes

STEAL AWAY by Wayland Rogers



Try two arrangements by Mark Hayes (who is, incidentally, my favorite
They are 'Go Down Moses' publ.Hinshaw (with a brilliant piano part) and
simple but very effective arrangement of 'All My Trials' publ. Alfred. I

know that it's not technically a spiritual, but it is good to sing and
beautifully written.


Stuart McIntosh
Director of Choirs
John Burroughs School
St Louis, Mo


These are my favorites, used now with an adult church choir, but which I
have heard college choirs do as well as the Robert Shaw Chorale. These
are all a cappella.

"Stayed on Jesus," Arr. Alice Parker. G.I.A. Publications, Inc.

"Soon Ah Will Be Done," William Dawson. Neil A. Kjos Music Co. #T 102-A

"Ride On, King Jesus," Robert Shaw/Alice Parker, G. Shirmer, Inc.

Others in the Shaw/Parker series that are quite good.

"I Got a Key," # 51105
"My God is a Rock," #51107
"My Soul's Been Anchored," #51111
"Sometimes I Feel," #51112
"Same Train," #51113

Ron Hernandez


If I may blow my own horn a bit, I have a setting of "Follow the
Gourd" with a small publisher in Wisconsin (Pentref Publications
608-356-1732) that I think really sets the mood of the piece better than

the other settings of this tune that I have seen. The choir must be
to count 8ths, but other than that it isn't terribly difficult. There
an optional accompaniment, although it was originally written for
unaccompanied SATB choir (and I still prefer it that way). The tenor
does not go very high, since the group I wrote it for had no real
If you are interested, let me know and I will send you a copy.

Dan Krunnfusz
Artistic Director, Madison (WI) Boychoir


The Storm is Passing Over - Barbara Baker - FABULOUS

Hunterdon Central Regional High School


Some of my favorites in the not-overly-difficult category:

O Mary, Don't You Weep - arr. Albert McNeil
Let Me Fly - arr. De Cormier
Ain't Got Time to Die - Hall Johnson
Soon-ah Will be Done - Dawson
Ain'a that good news - Dawson

There must be tons more - these leapt to mind.

David Griggs-Janower
Albany Pro Musica
228 Placid Drive
Schenectady, NY 12303-5118
SUNYA Music department fax: 518/442-4182


Ev'ry Time I Feel the Spirit

Were You There

I use these from time to time with my church choir.

Jonathan Veenker office/voice mail:612/638-6385
Associate Professor of Music fax: 612/638-6001
Bethel College e-mail: veejon(a)
3900 Bethel Drive
St. Paul, MN 55112


You asked on Choralist for SATB spirituals that worked. You mentioned
knowledge of Dawson and Hogan. But I just want to reinforce that the
Dawson arrangements are timeless, and work well for choirs, especially
"Every Time", "Ain't a that Good News", and "Soon Ah Well be Done".

Consider Michael Larkin's arrangement of "Somebody's Knocking at Your



I wrote a new arrangement of "Steal Away" this last year which is SATB
non-divisi, unaccompanied. It is available from Lux Nova Press.


* Mark Gresham mgresham(a)
* Composer
* Lux Nova Press
* My book CHORAL CONVERSATIONS is available from your favorite music
[.sig edited 10/06/97] * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* *


Schirmer's has a "Yale Glee Club" series including a large
of spirituals arranged by Marshall Bartholomew and Fenno Heath in a
variety of styles, mostly traditional four-part (for both SATB and
some with accompaniment and some without. I don't know how much of the
series is still in print, but I saw the most recent compilation of Heath

settings in the big San Francisco music store a few months ago, so it is

certainly available.

|| Nathaniel Geoffrey Lew
|| Ph.D. Candidate in Music, University of California, Berkeley
|| Associate in Music/Choir Director, Montclair Presbyterian Church
|| Managing Editor, repercussions


Try Alice Parker's set from GIA By and By is a real good one there is a
of about 14 total.

Jay Hartzler
Eastern Mennonite HS
Harrisonburg, VA


If you are aware of the "standards", then here are three that you may
not be
aware of. I will admit from the top that I have a vested interest in one
1. "Go Tell It On The Mountain", arranged by Steve Barnett (Boosey &
Philip Brunelle Series) has been very successful for me (in terms of
royalties from sales). It can be performed a cappella, or with an
string orchestra and percussion accompaniment available through B&H via
rental. It was commissioned by Philip Brunelle and his Ensemble Singers
you can hear it (along with some other wonderful Christmas music on a CD
I produced for RCA/BMG entitled: "Welcome Christmas" . For that
recording I
did a revised accompaniment that used the instruments that we had
for that recording, but it will give you an idea of what the string
accompaniment sounds like if you wish to use it.

The following two arrangements (and she may have others published
or unpublished as well) are by my former wife, Carol Barnett,
composer-in-residence with the Dale Warland Singers and were written for
2. "Steal Away", Arranged by Carol Barnett (Plymouth Music: The Dale
Folk Series).
3. "Deep River", Arranged by Carol Barnett (Plymouth Music: The Dale
Folk Series).
You can hear both of these arrangements on a Dale Warland Singers CD
that I
produced for the American Choral Catalog label entitled: "Blue Wheat".

I hope that you check these arrangements out. I think that you and your
singers will find them very rewarding and your audiences will as well.

Best wishes,

Steve Barnett
Barnett Music Productions

Ride the Chariot.

SATB with alternating Male (Tenor) and Female (Soprano) soloists.

Peter Wortman
Messiah's Congregation
Brooklyn, NY

Two of my choir's favorites are:

Fare Ye Well by Undine Smith Moore


My Soul's Been Anchored in the Lord by Glenn Jones

and my Favorite is

In His Care-O by William Dawson

Hope this helps,

Will Nichols
Alma College Choirs
Alma, Michigan


My students loved "Can't You Hear Those Freedom Bells Ringing" arr.
McLinn (?) pub. Kjos Music. Three verses, some divisi in the alto, neat
techniques (verse 2 ATB make bell sounds, verse 3 everyone begins

Jay Althouse has also written some nice original spirituals. However,
ones I'm familiar with are for Christmas (Star of Glory, Whisper,

Robert C. Fullerton
The Master's School
W. Simsbury, CT


Hogan's Elijah Rock was very successful for us this semester. We did
find the ending unsatisfying, so we added an extra chorus

Dr. Joel D. Knapp
Director of Choral Activities
Jacksonville State University
Jacksonville, AL 36265

I teach choral music in a Fine Arts high school in Montgomery, Alabama.
I saw
your posting and thought I would respond. Have you ever done any of the
Hairston spirituals? They are really good. Back some years ago there was
a TV
show about a black church with the Deacon, played by the actor that was
Jefferson in the show "the Jeffersons", I can't remember his name. The
daughter, Thelma was in love with the preacher. Then there was the
gentleman, Rollo. In real life Rollo is Jester Hairston. Some of
songs/arrangements are: Amen, Rolled the Stone Away, Were You There?,
Said a Mumblin' Word.
I think that you would like any of his arrangements.

Hope this helps,
Marie Burns
Booker T. Washington Magnet high School


Why don't you check with Dr. Hansonia Caldwell at Cal State University
Dominguez Hills?
Diane Trotter
Win a free copy of SUBSTANCE (Of Things Hoped For)
New Release by Pat Jackson on Faith & Grace Music


If you wouldn't mind a little self-promotion, I have a piece published
by MorningStar which seems to be popular -- and a little less thickly
textured than Moses Hogan's stuff:

"I'm So Glad" -- #MSM-50-8834

The rhythms are "authentic", the piano accompaniment is a scorcher and
it's scored SATB with Mezzo solo.

--Mike Hassell


Here are four which I have used with my students. They have enjoyed them
great deal.

All are SATB.
All are a cappella

Wondrous Love - a slow, passionate spiritual that starts with a solo and

builds to a stunning climax. Not difficult to learn.

Hallelujah(Been Down into the Sea) - a joyous, driving spiritual which
requires a good soloist or two and has opportunity for some gospel
improv if
desired. Not difficult to learn.

By 'n' By (When the Mornin' Comes) - a joyous, praise spiritual which
to a Take Six-ish written jazz improvisation. Challenging but doable by
good choir.

Carry Me - a composed spiritual which is somber and truly made my choir
cry as
they sang it last year. Not difficult. Solo optional.

Each of these can be optained through brosscum publications.

If interested, we will send a perusal copy and a performance tape.

Greg A. Lapp
brosscum publications


I peruse the Choralist as a staff member of Chorus America. I am a
too and recall doing a set of five spirituals that were embedded in
Tippett's Child of our Time. His arrangements. "Steal Away" was my all

time favorite in the bunch. Also "Nobody Knows the Trouble I Seen
"Deep River". They would be a challenge and I do know that you can just
the score of the spirituals without becoming married to the whole work.
Don't know unfortunately who the publisher is.

Yours sincerely,
Karen Richter
Member Services Director

Chorus America
1811 Chestnut Street, Ste. 401
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Phone 215-563-2430
Fax 215-563-2431


I have an arrangement of the spiritual "Deep River" for SATB, which I've
with two of my choirs. They love to sing it and it goes over great with

audiences. I'd be happy to send you a perusal copy, if you're

Karen P. Thomas
Artistic Director and Conductor
Seattle Pro Musica


I found Hill's arrangement of "Fix Me Jesus," published by Alliance, to
especially powerful. It has a long and chromatic TTBB section and we
some trouble with it, also needs a strong soprano soloist who holds her
key, but you said you had capable singers (Mine are not all of them,
so it's worth consideration.

R. John Specht * "Someday we'll find it--
Queensborough Chorus * The rainbow connection--
Bayside NY * The lover, the dreamer, and me.
rjohn(a) *
rjsqb(a) *


I have two Christmas spirituals you might want to try with your group.
The first is called "For He Was Born", my original piece that is very
upbeat, a cappella. The other is an arrangement I did of "I Wonder As I

Wander", scored for SATB choir plus children. I'll put free copies of
them in the mail today for you, and if you like them, you might also
to order a copy of "I Wonder As I Gaze at Starry Sky", which is another
(slower tempo) spiritual I wrote, available through Theodore Presser Co.

Good luck with your choir; sounds like a fun group to work with.

Ann Kapp Andersen (Fairbanks, Alaska)


One of my favorites is Edwin Fissinger's arrangement of "Didn't My Lord
Deliver Daniel?". SSAATTBB unaccompanied with mezzo-soprano solo.

Karen Weaver, Director
Good Company: A Vocal Ensemble
Cleveland, Ohio


My favorite is "Ain't got time to die" by Hall Johnson. I, too, have a
that loves spirituals and I would be very interested in the compilation


Micki Gonzalez
Central Presbyterian Church

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^END OF COMPILATION^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Date: Wed, 14 Jan 1998 07:51:55 -0700 (MST)
From: David Topping
Subject: Spirituals Compilation

(Note: this was sent to the wrong address, so I'm posting it
on behalf of subscriber Terri Karlsson, DBT)

I wrote last week asking for suggestions for spirituals for my choirs which
are two very small ones but will be combined into about 22 voices but only
about 5 men, at the opening Evening Prayer for the annual meeting of the
Southern Virginia Diocesean Council. We are going to be doing "We Are
Singing" which is arranged by Hopson and also Andre Thomas' "Keep Your Lamps"
which are both very easy but very catchy. We are also closing with Gaelic
Blessing which of course isn't spiritual, but my choirs love to do it
acapella. Many thanks to all of you who sent suggestions, music, etc. I am
certainly working on expanding our repertoire of spirituals now. I've ordered
a bunch of them on approval. You folks are the best!

Terri Karlsson

Compilation of Spirituals: (HOPE I DIDN"T LEAVE ANYONE OUT)

"We will Walk Through the Valley by Alice Parker (GIA) (two votes)
"O Mary Don't you Weep arr. Albert McNeil
"Spiritual Medley", "Wondrous Love", "Hallelujah" and "Carry Me", arr. Greg
"In The Morning Give Me Jesus" (SAB) Arr. Ryan Neaveill Pub. by Hinshaw
"Can't You Hear Those Freedom Bells Ringing" by Lena McLinn
"Ain'a That Good News" by William Dawson
'"My Lord What a Mornin" arr. Gerado Enrique Dirie
"I'm a Rollin" arr. Gerado Enrique Dirie
Collection of 56 Spirituals called "Look Away" pub. by
World Around Songs, Inc.
"I Know I Been Changed" by Roy Belfield, pub. Mark Foster Music Co.
"My Lord, What a Mornin" arr. Dawson
"Precious Lord", arr. Roy Ringwald
"Give Me Jesus", arr. L. L. Fleming
"I Believe This is Jesus" arr. Undine Smith Moore
anything by Jester Hairston
"Just a Closer Walk With Thee" by Red McCleod
"I'm Gonna Sing"
"Ain't Got Time to Die"
"Hear me Redeemer" by Henry Mollicone
"He's the Lily of the Valley" and "Seekin for a City" by Alice Parker
"Keep Your Lamps" arr. Andre Thomas, pub. Hinshaw
"Little Innocent Lamb" by Bartholomew, pub. Schirmer

Date: Sun, 22 Feb 1998 12:50:00 -0500 (EST)
From: Anna Rubin
Subject: "underground railroad songs" (fwd)

Dear Choralist, Several of you have expressed interest in Underground
Railroad Songs. The following message from Ysaye Barnwell is the most
complete answer I have received and I pass it on as an automatic
compilation. Do check out her excellent web
site. Several people also mentionned Thea Musgrave's
opera on Harriet Tubman as a resource though I have no idea if there are
extractable choruses which could be included in your repetoires. Best
wishes and thanks to all of you who responded with your helpful
suggestions. I hope more of these can be programmed. Best wishes, Anna

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 21 Feb 1998 08:50:56 -0500
From: Ysaye M. Barnwell
Subj: "underground railroad songs"

Dear Ms. Rubin:

I am responding to you request for information on "underground railroad

There is a large body of Spirituals that were sung (a) as encouragement for
those who were deciding to leave, (b) that alerted people that a group
would be leaving or (c) gave directions to those making the journey.
Some examples are:
Run Mourner, Run
I'm on my way to Canan Land
Steal Away to Jesus
Wade In The Water
I'm gonna sit at the Welcome Table
Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning
Git on Board Lil Children
Moses, Moses Don't let Pharoa O'ertake You
I've Been In The Storm So Long
I Am a Poor Pilgrim of Sorrow
I am Bound for the Promised Land
Walk Together Children, Don't you get Weary
This May be the Last Time
Free At Last, Free At Last
Come and Go With Me To That Land
Many Thousands Gone
Run, Mary, Run
All Night, All Night Angels Watchin Over Me
Oh, Freedom
Sheep Sheep Don't You Know the Road
Follow the Drinking Gourd

I don't know that you will find songs specifically chategorized as
"underground railroad songs". If you do, please let me know. I believe it
is more accurate to understand that there are a category of Spirituals that
speak very clearly about this experience as about many of the other
experiences and perceptions of African people who were enslaved here in the

Dr. Ysaye M. Barnwell
Barnwell's Notes Publishing

Date: Fri, 24 Apr 1998 10:50:21 -0400
From: "Betsy Burleigh"
Subject: symphonic & gospel compilation

Dear Choralist

Original request:
Does anyone know any works written specifically for a collaborative performance
between a symphonic choir and a gospel choir? I'm ideally looking for a work
that would enable both groups to somehow maintain their individual style and
sound yet still come together in a musically meaningful way. No restrictions
on size (small or large) of accompanying ensemble. Please respond to me and I
will post a compilation. Thank you.

Many thanks to everyone who contributed ideas!


From: Rebecca Rottsolk
The Northwest Girlchoir, Seattle Men's Chorus, Total Experience Gospel
Choir and Urban Rhythms commissioned a 10 minute collaborative piece by
Stephen Hatfield which we performed in 5 sold out SOULFULL concerts in
Seattle at Meany Theatre in March. It was a huge success. The work is
entitled "Out of Water, Into Air". It isn't yet published, but you
could contact Stephen Hatfield if you are interested.
hatfield(a) Our performance utilized a men's choir of 200
voices, a girlchoir(ages 13-18) of 100 voices, and two 15-voice adult
gospel choirs. We did other mass choir songs as well, arranged by one of
the gospel choir directors, Kent Stevenson. Good luck.
=================From: Judith_Zuckerman(a)
The closest thing I can think of, which admittedly is not specifically what
you've asked for, is the Duke Ellington "Sacred Service". I haven't heard the
piece myself, but I'm told it is wonderful.
=================From: "Charles King"
Check Michael Abels, "What a Mighty God We Serve," for just such forces as
you ask about. As Gospel it really swings, and it is fully orchestrated.
The Plymouth Music Series of Minnesota (Philip Brunelle, conductor) would
be an excellent resource for you. Their annual February (Black history
Month) concerts have a) uncovered, and b) commissioned many interesting
works, culminating in a series of recordings, "Witness." Vol. 1 is gospels
and spirituals, and includes "What a Mighty God We Serve."
I will attempt to paste onto this note my last email from their office, for
your follow-up.

Dear Chuck King:
Thanks for your interest....really it is probably much easier to mail order
WITNESS from us than track down through your local record shop.
Here's the deal: We have plenty of Witness I CDs in stock. Cost is $17
each, which includes postage, handling, and tax (not applicable here anyway).
To order, call Gloria during the business day at 612/870-0943 (avoid
Thursdays as she doesn't come in until about 3 p.m.). She accepts VISA,
Mastercard, and American Express or can invoice you.
If you prefer, send a check or write out the order and mail to:
Gloria Freeman
Plymouth Music Series
1900 Nicollet Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55403
Katryn Conlin
Audience Development and Communications Associate
===========From: Shelley Huston
The person to talk to about gospel music and orchestras is
Isaiah Jackson, conductor of the Youngstown Symphony. He and others have a
project going. Isaiah lives in Dayton and has email... Isaiah did some of
their works at the Berkshire Choral Festival last summer and wowed everyone
===================From: bob meyer
All of the collections from the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir (Carol Cymbala,
dir.) (Word music ) are orchestrated. Very tasteful stuff.
============From: David Griggs-Janower
Brand new work, commissioned by John Nelson's Soli Deo Gloria, called
D'vorah for gospel chorus and full orchestra. Written by Paul
Schoenfeld. Just recieved its US premiere in D.C., first weekend in
April. More info from Soli Dei Gloria: sdg(a)
===========From: Timothy A Mount TMOUNT(a)
I highly recommend David Fanshawe's "African Sanctus" where such a
combination would not only work but is preferred by the composer. I believe it
is now handled by Hinshawe and there is a recording out by Silva Classics. It's
scored for piano, 2 or more percussion, small rock band, electronic keyboard,
and a tape recording of indigenous (sp?) music from Africa recorded by the
composer. Fanshawe has written music which is performed with and around the
tapes. I am deeply moved by this work and its "ecumenicalism." It is quite
difficult in some spots but is very exciting and worth the effort.
=============From: Steven Skinner
You might want to contact John Walker at Shadyside Presbyterian Church in
Pittsburgh, PA. When he was at the Riverside Church (NY, NY) he commissioned
works for the church's chancel and gospel choirs.
=============From: MLycanclef
There is a work by William Grant Still for a white and a black choir--can't
put my finger on the name right this minute, ....
===============From: Aharler:
> We performed a very interesting piece by William Grant Still entitled "And
> They Hung Him On A Tree". As you probably know, Still was a very important
> American composer - his daughter is living in Texas and was a great help with
> this project. The piece is for standard orchestra, a "white" chorus, a
> "black"
> chorus, and mezzo-soprano soloist. The white chorus represents the crowd at a
> lynching scene and the black chorus enters to lament the hanged son/friend.
> The mezzo (we used Marietta Simpson) is the mother of the victim. The
> choruses
> sing together in the final minutes of the piece. It is quite moving. . .
========From: DavidJBaar
At the recent ACDA convention in Detroit, the Brazeal Dennard Chorale
performed the work "I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes" by Adolphus Hailstrok, published
by Presser. I think it may be a possibility for what you are looking for. It
is a smaller major work with orchestra.

Betsy Burleigh
Cleveland State University
on September 5, 2005 10:00pm
on September 5, 2005 10:00pm
bonjour abraham est mon non que faut il pour rentre en possetion de ses partions merci
on May 25, 2008 10:00pm
Hello everyone !!
I am a choir director in France.
I have a fabulous men's choir and am looking for an arrangement of Hal Johnson's AIN'T GOT TIME TO DIE for TTBB
Do you have it or know where I can get it ?
I love the Schirmer version (Ref N
on May 28, 2008 10:00pm
HI !! How do I know if I have received an answer to my question ?? Where do I look for reponses ?? Can anyone help ?? Thanks !!

Hello everyone !!
I am a choir director in France.
I have a fabulous men's choir and am looking for an arrangement of Hal Johnson's AIN'T GOT TIME TO DIE for TTBB
Do you have it or know where I can get it ?
I love the Schirmer version (Ref N
on May 28, 2008 10:00pm
This isn't a good place to ask questions. Send a message to Choralist instead.
on July 24, 2008 10:00pm
HELLO everyone !!
I am SOOO overwhelmed by all the responses I received concerning the Ain't got time to die Men's chorus version... THANKS SO MUCH !! You are ALL incredible !!
I just just finished an INCREDIBLE TOUR here in Europe with MIDWEST AMERCIAN HONOR CHOIR TOURS with a 180 voice choir !! ... singing in the most prestigious cathedrals throughout Europe... St. Paul's in London, Notre Dame of Paris, San Marco in Venise, Duomo in Verona, Dom in Salzburg, St. Stephens in Vienna, as well as cathedrals in Strasbourg, Mont St. Michel, Metz, St. Michaels in Munich... etc. etc. etc. !!! I can also set up UNFORGETTABLE TOURS TO EUROPE FOR YOU AND YOUR CHOIRS TOO... just contact me !! It will be a pleasure to create lasting memories for you and your singers !!!

BUT I am actually looking for a fabulous MEN'S CHORUS OPENER for some very important concerts coming up... something like a POWERFUL vocal fanfare - stunning and putting these fabulous men's voices to their very best !! while nailing everyone to their seats in total extacy !! Know what I mean hehehe !! :-))))

Thanks for ANY ideas that you might have !
All the best to you all... you are precious !!
Come to France and Europe sometime !!!