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In Their Own Words<br>Slave Life and the Power of Spirituals


In Their Own Words
Slave Life and the Power of Spirituals

Product Number: 90-52

Composer: Guenther, Eileen



This groundbreaking study of slavery and spirituals is the first to place the unique voices of an enslaved people squarely within the context of their daily lives. Dr. Guenther's deeply researched account weaves a succinct history of “America’s original sin” into an examination of the role of singing and religion in slave life and directly correlates slave testimonies—in their own words—to the themes of Spirituals. In addition to surveying the musical styles, performance practices, and melodic and rhythmic characteristics of spirituals, In Their Own Words includes a biblical concordance to 100 of the spirituals most frequently sung. Paperback.

Click here to read an excerpt from The Choral Journal, official magazine of the American Choral Directors Association!


How wonderful to have Spirituals come alive through their words! In 1925, James Weldon Johnson wrote that "all the true Spirituals possess dignity—the music of these songs is always noble and their sentiment is always exalted." Delving into these Spirituals through words from times past gives us an added dimension as we share this richness with others. This is a book to use and treasure. We must share this wealth of inspiration and information, for it deserves to be known as widely as possible.
-Philip Brunelle, Artistic Director and Founder, VocalEssence

Click here to read a review by the Detroit Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.

Not since Du Bois, Johnson, and Work has anyone written more eloquently and passionately about Spirituals within the context of slave life than has Eileen Guenther in this accessible work, researched over a decade. Her inclusion of a biblical concordance is an invaluable contribution–making these 100 Spirituals available to churches, especially those that follow the Common Lectionary. Students, colleagues, concert artists, church musicians, liturgists, and a new reading public can now more fully appreciate the power of the Spirituals. It is a MUST READ!
-William B. McClain, Mary Elizabeth Joyce Professor Emeritus of Preaching and Worship, Wesley Theological Seminary

Click here to read the Baltimore-Washington Conference review!

This book is for all who are engaged in theological education, and especially those who preach, plan worship, and do liturgy. The two concordances provide a rich depository of Scripture and Spirituals that provide an expansive choice for sermons, worship services, concerts, and choir selections. For those interested in offering diversity in worship, this resource gives an informed understanding of the context and purpose of the Spirituals.
-Paula Owens Parker, Union Presbyterian Seminary, Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology, Jan. 2017

Additional Information

Product Number 90-52
Composer/Arranger Guenther, Eileen
Voicing & Instruments Book
Publisher MorningStar Music Publishers
Popular Book Searches Biographical/Historical Texts, Educational Resource, Worship Resource

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