* All liner notes are direct quotations from the narrative preceding the spirituals on the CD.

1 Oh, Lord, Won’t You Hear Me Pray
…an expression of the slaves’ hope of being permitted to enter heaven.

This is the story of Jesus told by American blacks as they related it to their own lives and hopes. We find the origins of the spiritual in the time of slavery, when the stories of the Bible were overheard by the blacks and recreated and passed on in songs. Their belief centered in the world of the Bible; and that man would be redeemed through the Savior Jesus; and that through Him, they would regain the most precious gift in life, freedom. Prayer was what made life endurable.

2 Create Me A Body
…Jesus asks his Father for permission to go to earth to redeem mankind.
And more holy our people lived and their first thoughts voiced in spiritual form, depicted Christ, asking Father, God, to allow Him to come down to earth and redeem mankind.

3 Go Tell It On The Mountain
…the portrayal of the birth of Christ.
The story of the birth of Christ is a familiar one today (though perhaps not familiar enough.) However, to early African-Americans, it was wonderfully fresh and new. In their own way, they glorified every step of the Savior’s life, from His birth to His resurrection and ascension.

4 New Born
… a joyful expression of how the slaves imagined the jubilation of Christ’s birth.

5 Little Boy, How Old Are You?
…at twelve, Jesus visited the Temple and confounded the priests and scribes.
When He was a young boy, Jesus worked as an apprentice carpenter, assisting his step-father, Joseph. Even at the early age of 12, He had a marvelous mind. He visited the Temple at Jerusalem, and confounded the priests and scribes with His great wisdom.

6 Wade In The Water
…Christ’s immersion in the Jordan river by John the Baptist.
It was natural for the African-Americans, either in slavery or newly emancipated, to identify with the plight of the ancient enslaved Hebrews. The belief that just as God had led the Hebrews to freedom, they believed so would He someday free the black man. The Bible speaks of Moses and the story of the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist.

7 Jus' Come from the Fountain
…Jesus meets the woman at the well.
The first black Americans related to the story of Jesus meeting the woman at the well. Jesus asked the woman for a drink of water, the woman who was from Samaria, asked, “Why do you ask me for water when you know that Jews don’t associate with Samaritans?” Jesus said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and Who it is that is asking you for water, you would ask Him for water, and He would give you living water.” Jesus told the woman many things about her personal life which astonished her. She went away rejoicing and told everyone she met about Him. The creators of the Spirituals put the thoughts and emotions of the Samaritan woman in their own words and it became: “Jus’ come from the fountain, Lord, His name so sweet.”

8 I Know The Lord Laid His Hands on Me
…Christ gives sight to the blind man.
When Jesus came to Bathsheba, a blind man was brought to Him. The blind man asked Jesus to cure him. Jesus took the man’s hand and led him out of the town. There, our Savior spit on the blind man’s eyes and put His hands on him. The blind man looked up and said, “I see men, as trees walking!” Jesus put His hands again on the blind man’s eyes and made him look up, and his sight was restored and he saw every man clearly. If the spirit of the Savior could give sight to the blind man, would He not bless them with freedom?

9 Give Me Your Hand
…Jesus teaches mankind to love one another.
Jesus’ life was a great example of how He expected mankind to act towards each other. He advised us to treat one another with brotherly love, to serve the Lord fervently, to rejoice in hope and be patient in times of trouble. And so we turn to our neighbor and say, “…shake hands and forget.”

10 Done Found My Lost Sheep
…Christ’s parable of the lost sheep.
Jesus spoke in parables to help point the way to redemption. The story of the lost sheep was one of such parables. It refers to the one sheep which was missing from the shepard’s flock of 100. Jesus, the Savior, said His Father would be happier over the one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine just persons who have no need for repentance.

11 Ride On King Jesus
…the multitudes praised Jesus, laying palms before Him as He rode into Jerusalem.
When the Savior came into Jerusalem He was riding on an ass. As He rode slowly through the streets, the people shouted, “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord, God Jehovah.” The multitude praised Jesus, laying palms before Him as He rode into Jerusalem.

12 Let Us Break Bread Together
…the last supper.
It was written that Jesus would not be accepted by those in authority and He would be put to death. When Jesus met His disciples for their last supper together, He picked up some bread, blessed it and gave it to them, saying, “this is My body.” He picked up the wine, blessed it and said, “…drink you all of it, for this is the blood of My New Testament which is shed for many for the remission of My sin…and I will not drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I shall drink it with you in my Father’s Kingdom.”

13 Plenty Good Room
...Christ tells His disciples there is plenty of room in His Father’s kingdom.

14 They Led My Lord Away
…while Christ was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, the soldiers came and led Him away.
The Savior led His disciples to the garden and continued praying, for it was written that He was to suffer a sacrificial death. They slept while He prayed. “Sleep on now and take your rest,” Jesus said. “Behold the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.” And while He was speaking, Judas appeared with a horde of soldiers with swords and staves, “…and they led my Lord away.”

15 Give Me Jesus
…when Christ was before Pilate, the crowds cried for the release of Barabbas, but the Christians prayed for the freedom of Jesus.

16 Show Me The Way
...the slaves long to be free from the toil without recompense.
Now Jesus, knowing what was ordained and destined for Him, prayed to His Father in heaven, asking Him to show a way to bear the burden and agony that He endured for every living soul.

17 Crucifixion
…the soldiers nail Jesus to the tree.
They escorted the Savior to Calvary. The way was tiring for Him. They put a crown of thorns on His head and forced Him to carry His own torture stake. It was too heavy for Him. He stumbled and fell many times. Onlookers wanted to help Him but were prevented from doing so by the soldiers. How well they could identify with Christ’s suffering.

18 This Wicked Race
…African-American men and women identify with Christ’s suffering.

19 He Arose
…three days later Jesus is resurrected from the tomb.
The crucifixion fulfilled the Scriptures; it meant the possibility of everyone’s salvation. The Savior’s body was placed in a tomb. On the third day, His Father resurrected Him.

20 Amen
…for forty days more on earth, Christ taught His message to His disciples.
For forty days more on earth, Christ taught His message to the disciples. He said, “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

21 Rise and Shine
The spirituals retold the story of the Savior in the words and in the voices of black Americans, but the beauty of the music and the spontaneous and vivid language of the verses transcended the black communities. They appealed to all Americans, evoking a response that overcame all barriers. The spirituals are probably the earliest and most fertile source of true American music, and they are an expression of American experiences and emotions that is shared in the living tradition of the entire country.