In what ways did the African-American slaves incorporate Christian beliefs into their own religious practices?
Religion was a major factor during the slave trade where the whites are believed to have used it to ensure the slaves remained obedient to their masters; however the blacks used it to understand righteousness and on the other hand to fight for justice, freedom and equality. The black traditions were incorporated so as to understand their worth, relevance, reconciliations and assurance to God (McClain, 1990). The blacks used the religion to incorporate Christian beliefs into their own religious practices so as to creatively bring out the social problems. They were able to reshape, recreate and refashion the Christian faith to be able to meet their personal needs.
What role did music play in this process?
Music has been a powerful force in the religious practices of African-Americans since their first experiences in North America. Music was used to bring the aspects of life and death, love and judgment, suffering and sorrow, justice and mercy, and grace and hope. They brought out the unhappy society in a beautiful human experience. Songs were used to express their joy and their love for deep religion in their minds and their hearts (McClain, 1990).
How does the use of music in African-American worship services differ from their White counterparts?
The worship for the blacks was used to celebrate the survival power and the affirmation to life. They were able to integrate the secular and the sacred to affirm the wholeness of God, the unity of life, and the Lordship of the Lord in their life. Black worship was unique and genuine in its own way. While the white worship was rigid, short and less emotional; the blacks worship was more exuberant and more emotional (McClain, 1990). The services used to be more interactive and for long periods of time with more personal testimonies incorporated in the service to engage the audience.
While some people may argue that the religious aspects between the whites and blacks are the same there are issues that show otherwise. The blacks and whites have a basic and decisive difference that is about the scripture. The blacks can be described as neo-evangelists and believe in motivation but they do not make proclamation the inerrancy of the scripture. In the preaching the blacks are more at liberty than the whites; who normally focus on the biblical stories to enlighten the listeners. The blacks do not have a clear distinction of the old and the New Testament as if the New Testament is greater than the Old Testament. The black preachers have an affinity to the Old Testament and when they refer to the New Testament they are more focused on the gospels (McClain, 1990).
In what ways were the powerful emotional forces engendered by the religious songs utilized in the American civil-rights movement of the mid-twentieth century, and what made these songs so effective?
The American civil rights movement greatly used religion in that they were able to enlighten the people of the oppression and injustice that the whites were inflicting upon them. They were able to celebrate the affirmation to ensure the community felt together; and also ensure they served a functional purpose. The enlightenment about the afflictions and the abuse of their rights through songs were able to be highlighted and emotionally understood (McClain, 1990). They fought racial segregation, slavery and economic disparities through the use of these religious songs which acted as a great media for the message. They gave the message that God was no respecter of race, persons, ages, or rituals and thus the meaning of life was based on living in a free world. Black fork ensured that they used their rituals, rites liturgies and ceremonies to fight for their rights. The songs became very effective since they were easy to grasp and understand; in addition they were sang and understood by many blacks while the whites could not understand (McClain, 1990). They were a secret way of sending their message of freedom through recounting their suffering. For instance, chanting the song “by the river of Babylon….., there we wailed” would be a way to incite an uprising.