Spirituals: Higginson vs His Own Blindness

From this week’s reading, Higginson’s writing on slave, or negro, spirituals really sparked my attention. His commentary on what he thought the slaves we singing about actually made me laugh. Most of the songs have suicidal references or some indication that they wanted to die. I just don’t understand how Higginson thought, from the song Room in There, “my mudder” was related to Romandar. I searched for Romandar’s meaning and only found that it was associated with creativity. The only logical explanation for his lack of knowledge is that mudder was a creative dialect of the word mother because I’m pretty positive that’s what the slaves were saying. The one song that I wish had a more suitable explanation is Hail Mary. This song is very meaningful because of the line “to help me bear de cross.” I want to know more about what they meant. Was the cross reference to slavery in general or just their sorrows? Why were they calling up to Mary? I also wish Higginson expressed each song origins. That would’ve helped me process the reasoning behind some of the sayings. Higginson’s idea of formalizing the songs together was incredible; I just wish the execution was more relative and true to the meaning and experiences of slaves.

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