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African American Literature February 25, 2014. Negro Spirituals: Notes and Examples(analysis). Agenda. Many Rivers to Cross Ep 2 Recap Notes: Negro Spirituals “Steal Away to Jesus” and “Go Down Moses” TPCASTT – a tool for unlocking meaning. Negro Spirituals.

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African american literature february 25 2014

African American LiteratureFebruary 25, 2014

Negro Spirituals: Notes and Examples(analysis)


Many Rivers to Cross Ep 2 Recap

Notes: Negro Spirituals

“Steal Away to Jesus” and “Go Down Moses”

TPCASTT – a tool for unlocking meaning

Negro spirituals
Negro Spirituals

Religious songs sung by African Americans since the earliest days of slavery

First gathered in a book in 1801 by black church leader Richard Allen

Negro spirituals1
Negro Spirituals

Not sung only in churches or religious settings

Sung during work time, play time and rest time as well as on Sundays and during praise meetings

Served as powerful shields against the slaveholders’ desire to oppress all aspects of black humanity

Negro spirituals2
Negro Spirituals

Common theme: “This world is not my home”

Common images: a steady and just King Jesus with plenty of room around his throne –a place to be reunited with those they had lost

Negro spirituals3
Negro Spirituals

These visions of justice were twofold: to escape the sorrowful world and to criticize injustice and violence

Focus on Old Testament God, his heroes and prophets

Allegory: Egypt=south; Pharoah=masters; Israelites=themselves; Moses=their leader

Negro spirituals4
Negro Spirituals

Another purpose: referring to the urge, and maybe even the specific plan, to make a run from slavery to freedom

Negro spirituals5
Negro Spirituals

Form: Call and Response patterns of West and Central Africa

Further study: How are their sounds captured on the printed page by future writers?


Title (pre)


Connotation (deeper meanings? Fig. lang?)

Attitude (tone)

Subject (What is it about?)

Title (post)

Theme (What does it reveal about human experience? Etc…)


Complete TPCASTT Analysis for “Steal Away to Jesus” and “Go Down, Moses” on a separate sheet of paper

The paraphrase portion of the task can be written directly on the handouts.

Closing listen and compare
Closing – Listen and Compare

Exit ticket: How does the audio recording of the spirituals emphasize or change your understanding of the meaning of the songs? Be specific in your response.