Sunday, March 14, 2010

Revolution under Submission

This is my favorite Mahalia Jackson track in the world; Walk Over God's Heaven. And it's a key to all the other spirituals I know.

Few people I know truly hear what this song says. We get that the slaves had no shoes. They didn't have enough clothes. And on the surface, this song sounds like these slaves accepted this situation and in some cases were cheerfully waiting for Glory. Even better than stoics under adversity.

"Everybody talking about heaven ain't going there--well. We gonna walk."

There's a pool of comment under that 'Well.'

Every time the slaves were asked to sing for the Big House, those same slaves were telling the Big House that the practice of their creed was wanting. That force was on the side of the Big House, but God expected something different. And that given the opportunity, they were walking away from this poor state of affairs.

By calling it heaven, they meant God's heaven. But they also meant they considered their present position hell. It was a communication of disagreement under a seeming agreement. It was resistance, even the seeds of revolution. The jubilation comes, I think, from finding a way to speak their mind without reprisal.


So isn't she fabulous?

4 comments:

Gia's Spot said...

And isn't it amazing that they had no computer generated "sounds" to enhance their voices? Imagine them now!!! Again, another great find, Ann T .
Gia

Ann T. said...

Dear Gia,
I am so glad you are getting a kick out of these music posts!

My poor brain occasionally runs out of words. Ah, not usually.

I'll keep striving to please,
Ann T.

Slamdunk said...

My mother loved Mahalia Jackson. Thanks for the additional thoughts on slavery, it was something that I did not think through completely.

I also tried to leave a supportive comment on your rap song post, but I musty have lost it.

Keep up with the good blogging Ann T.

Ann T. said...

Dear Slamdunk,
This one and In the Upper Room are my favorites of hers.

I used to sit in the gospel tent at the New Orleans jazz festival and just weep and weep. But I was happy, too. I would scoot back out when they pulled in the electric guitars. I loved the choirs.

I'm glad you liked the rap too!

Thanks for the support!
Ann T.