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Southern Gospel Music Lyrics – Leaving Footprints in History

The slaves of the nineteenth century faced tremendous adversity to regain their freedom, but the southern gospel music lyrics they gave birth to have left their footprints deeply embedded in the pages of history. The struggles they faced and conquered provided fodder for many of the most beautiful and inspirational works of this type of music known today, and they laid the foundation for a new era of Christianity.

These lyrics differ from many of the Protestant hymns predating modern gospel in that they personify a more personal relationship with God. Much of this is based upon the way that the religion evolved. The European Protestants were encouraged to maintain a much more formal religion; however, when religious services are held in filthy huts and you have no other hope to get you through the day formality gets thrown to the wayside. This led to inspirational pieces such as Thomas A. Dorsey’s “Precious God,” “Amazing Grace,” “The Old Rugged Cross”, “Beulah Land” and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.”

These became so popular that when slavery was abolished and the African freed slaves were allowed to establish formal places of worship their music spread throughout the south, drawing in Africans and Europeans alike to join together in a common brotherhood. This was among the first pieces of African-American culture to cross the racial divide, establishing the foundation of what would eventually become a fully integrated nation.

Southern gospel music lyrics also gave birth to gospel jazz, a powerful genre of music that developed in the early 20th century. Jazz itself was created on the streets of the south, developed through the efforts of the newly freed slaves to learn to play western musical instruments and firmly integrating their own distinct musical heritage. Gospel jazz bears the flavor of West Africa, the Caribbean and South America, seamlessly blending them and bringing to them the free spirit and deep suffering of the African people.

Such an emotional genre cried out for the new Americans to express their spirituality, and so it was that Thomas A. Dorsey faced the censure of the church and set southern gospel music lyrics to jazz. For a society that favored a complete separation of the spiritual and the secular this was an abomination; however, his works would come to be known as the traditional style of southern gospel and be emulated in churches all over the south.

Southern gospel music lyrics can still be found in the works of contemporary artists, Christian and secular. Today’s country music singers have created new versions of old favorites and stamped them as their own, and many Christian music artists straddle the fence between the two. They have undeniably left their footprints in the history of this country and the heritage of the mighty south.

Mon, July 16 2012 » Arts And Entertainment

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