Gospel Music Lyrics
Black gospel music lyrics not only celebrate Christianity
and faith in Jesus Christ but also the rich history of African Americans
in this nation. Many people refer to this style of song as black
gospel in order to distinguish it from other forms of Christian
music lyrics or Southern Gospel songs.
Black gospel music lyrics have their roots back 300 years or more
in old Negro spirituals that were sung or chanted during the days
of slavery. Black gospel music lyrics were sung as a form of devotion
and testament to faith and sometimes rebellion.
When black gospel music began, the lyrics were a freewheeling part
of a religious service, which some other denominations called "Holy
Rollers". Individual church members were encouraged to testify
their faith in the Lord.
The lyrics and music that erupted from the testaments were a spontaneous
form of singing and speaking that merged music, words, faith and
culture like no other artistic devotions or creations before it.
Dancing with the Holy Ghost and repetitions of catchphrases from
the other revelers and witnesses ensued. Traveling preachers started
to incorporate the black gospel music lyrics into their sermons
and the overall experience of the religious presentation.
Besides the black gospel lyrics, the music started taking on forms
of boogie-woogie, jazz, blues and barrelhouse music with rhythmic
drumbeats and horns. These musical forms and religious lyrics were
then transported inside the church settings to enhance the experience
for the churchgoers.
Bessie Smith, Mahalia Jackson, Roberta Martin and James Cleveland
helped popularize and commercialize black gospel music and lyrics
in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. The Flamingoes, the Orioles and the Ravens
brought the quartet structure and a cappella techniques to the recording
Some of the most prominent black recording artists would incorporate
black gospel music and lyrics into their own individual sounds.
Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Al Green and Marvin Gaye brought
their black gospel roots into the music scene to help popularize
this new sound and a lyrical sophistication not found in other