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The syncopated rhythms of gospel are typically spare, with heavy, often hand-clapped accents.
Although the roots of gospel can be traced to Africa and the earliest arrival of Africans in the New World, the main antecedent was the "Dr.
The African-American religious music known as gospel, originating in the field hollers, slave songs, spirituals, and Protestant hymns sung on southern plantations, and later at camp meetings and churches, has come to dominate not only music in black churches but singing and instrumental styles across the spectrum of American popular music, including jazz, blues, rhythm and blues, soul, and country.
Exemplified in songs such as "Take My Hand, Precious Lord" and "Move On Up a Little Higher," gospel music encourages emotional and jubilant improvisation on songs of thanksgiving and praise as well as sorrow and suffering.
Other important gospel composers who came to prominence during this time were Lucie Campbell (1885Despite the publication of these hymnals and the dissemination of individual songs in both print and by record, it was by word of mouth that gospel spread, particularly in working-class communities in the rural South.
Early forms of gospel music such as sung or chanted testimonials and sermons were used to complement prayers in Holiness churches.
For example, in Charles Harrison Mason's 1908 "I'm a Soldier," the leader and congregation begin by alternating the following lines: "I'm a soldier/In the army of the Lord/I'm a soldier/In the army." Succeeding choruses differ only in the lead line, with the leader interpolating such phrases as "I'm fighting for my life," "I'm a sanctified soldier," or "I'll live and I'll die," and the congregation repeating "In the army" as a refrain.
The length of such songs often stretched to fifteen minutes or more.
Preachers who popularized their own songs included J. Burnett ("Drive and Go Forward," 1926), Ford Washington Mc Ghee ("Lion of the Tribe of Judah," 1927), J. Gates ("Death's Black Train Is Coming," 1926), and A. In 1921 the National Baptist Convention, USA, the largest organization of black Christians in the world, not only formally recognized gospel as a legitimate sacred musical form but published a collection of hymns, spirituals, and gospel songs under the title Gospel Pearls, edited by Willa A. That hymnal contained six songs by Tindley, the first gospel composer successfully to combine the conventions of white evangelical music with the simple, often sentimental melodies of black spirituals.
The 1921 convention also marked the emergence of the composer Thomas A.
However, it was a Foster Singers spinoff group, the Birmingham Jubilee Singers, led by one of the members of the Foster Singers, that inspired gospel quartets that soon started all over the South.