New Dissertation! The Negro Spirituals’ Influence on the Growth and Development of the Black Church in the United States

This dissertation by Samuel Williams explores the foundational influence of Negro Spirituals on the development of the Black Church in the United States and investigates if this influence, or lack of influence, continues with the 21st century Black Church in the United States. Fifty Black Churches were surveyed regarding the current influence of Negro Spirituals on the 21st Century Black Church in the United States. Combined with the theological, historical, and bibliographic research, data revealed that the Negro Spiritual was foundational to the development of the Black Church. Read more

Black Tradition of Spiritual Wrestling

Becker, William H. “The Black Tradition of Spiritual Wrestling.” Journal of Religious Thought 51, no. 2 (1994): 29–46.

Becker outlines five basic themes he sees in the writings of African Americans, such as Richard Allen, W. E. B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King Jr. Malcom X, and Alice Walker: suffering, spiritual striving, dark spiritual beauty, spiritual challenge, and a belief that African American spiritual struggle has to do with the very soul of America. Becker identifies these themes in spirituals as well.

Bible study based on spirituals

Kirk-black_madonna-01Duggan, Cheryl. Mary Had a Baby: A Bible Study Based on African American Spirituals. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2003.

This book and CD set is designed for group study. The group reads the scripture passage and historical context of the spiritual. Includes material for a discussion and interaction based on the biblical, historical, and spiritual themes of the words and music. Spirituals discussed are “Mary Had a Baby” (Matthew 1:25b),  “Rise Up Shepherd and Follow” (Matthew 2:9),  “Children, Go Where I Send Thee” (Luke 2:4), and “Go, Tell It on the Mountain” (Luke 2:20).