“Oh, Arkansas" by Terry Rose and Gary Klaff is one of the official state songs of Arkansas. It was written in 1986 for the state's 150th anniversary celebration, and was named an official "state song" by the Arkansas General Assembly in 1987.
This year marks our state’s 180th anniversary! President Andrew Jackson approved the bill creating the State of Arkansas on June 15, 1836.
Arkansas Capitol Building at Little Rock
State flower: Apple Blossom State bird: Mockingbird State mammal: White-tailed deer State tree: Loblolly Pine
State Insect: Honeybee State Fish: Largemouth Bass
State Gem: Diamond
State Instrument: Fiddle
Click below to hear our assembly song for the week.
This week we will be studying spirituals. Spirituals are an important part of the history of American music. They are generally Christian songs created by African slaves in the United States, and they also described the hardships of slavery. This historic group of songs is unique to America and is now recognized as a distinct genre of music.
Moses Hogan was an American composer and arranger of choral music, best known for his settings of African-American spirituals. He was known internationally as a pianist, conductor and arranger.
Mrs. Philpot accompanies the ASU Concert Choir
Hogan’s works are celebrated and performed by high school, college, church, community, and professional choirs today. The choirs at ASU-Jonesboro usually perform one of Hogan’s arrangements each year.
WHAT DO THE LYRICS MEAN? Our listening example is “Deep River”, perhaps the best known and best-loved spiritual of all time. The song has been sung in several films and is popular on concerts and recitals. The lyrics are thought to have special meanings. “My home is over Jordan” and “I want to cross over into campground” may refer to a person’s desire to go to Heaven. But it has been suggested that the song was intended to offer advice to slaves who wanted to run away to freedom. Escaping through a river would allow the water to wash away their scent if they were being pursued by bloodhounds.
LISTEN FOR . . . This choir arrangement is meant to be sung very expressively. It is sung a capella, which means without accompaniment.
MUSIC LISTENING LINK
Click below to hear "Deep River". Duration 3:03 minutes.
Click below to listen to a documentary on songs about slavery, narrated by students. Duration 4:45 minutes.
Click below to hear a short documentary on Moses Hogan. Duration 7:07 minutes.
Click below to hear a spiritual style arrangement of "Amazing Grace".
Listening Example: "Dry Bones"
The African American spiritual makes up one of the largest and most significant forms of American folksong. They are so important to our country’s musical history that many are included in elementary school music books.
There are over 60 spirituals included in the Share the Music textbooks used at Weiner Elementary.
THE NATURE OF SPIRITUALS There are many different categories and natures of spirituals.
LULLABIES Some spirituals are sung as lullabies. Two of the most well-known are “Hush, Little Baby, Don’t Say a Word”; and “Summertime”, written in a spiritual style by George and Ira Gershwin for their opera, Porgy and Bess. This song has been sung and played by many 20th century artists.
"Hush, little baby, don't say a word. Daddy's gonna buy you a mockingbird."
"Summertime" from Porgy and Bess by Gershwin
WORK SONGS Spirituals have been sung as work songs. Their lyrics and steady rhythm have encouraged people to keep going when they’re tired.
STORIES FROM THE BIBLE Many spirituals were based on stories from the Bible. For example, “Go Tell It on the Mountain” tells the Christmas story.
The spiritual “Go Down, Moses”, describes the Israelite slaves’ exodus from Egypt. To early African-Americans, this song, along with others, represented freedom from bondage. Spirituals remain popular in many churches in the southern United States.
SORROW SONGS Many spirituals are known as “sorrow songs”. They express the suffering and hardships experienced by African-American slaves. These songs are slow, intense, and melancholic in nature. Two well-known “sorrow songs” are “Nobody Knows the TroubleI’ve Seen” and “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child”.
While Moses Hogan has written many arrangements of spirituals for choirs to sing, his most important work today is his Oxford Book of Spirituals, created in 2002. It is a collection of best loved spirituals.
JOYFUL SONGS Our listening example today is a joyful spiritual. Joyful spirituals are known as “jubilees” or “camp meeting songs”. They are fast, lively and sometimes have syncopated rhythm. People often associate the song “Dry Bones” with Halloween, but it’s actually based on a Bible story.
MUSIC LISTENING LINKS
Our listening example for today shows the progression through the different bones.
This cute, funky animated version has percussive sounds.
This vocal/instrumental Dixieland version features Moses Hogan's New Orleans Gospel Choir.
"Im Gonna Sing" has a cool, rock beat to it.
Listening Example: "Wade in the Water"
Moses Hogan was born in New Orleans where he lived with his parents and five siblings. His parents gave their children a passion for music. His father sang bass in the church choir while his uncle was the church Minister of Music and organist.
New Orleans Center for Creative Arts High School
Hogan was an accomplished pianist by the age of nine. He was musically educated from a young age and attended the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts High School, the prestigious Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and the Julliard School of Music. These are colleges where the most talented musicians go to study.
Oberlin Conservatory of Music
Julliard School of Music
After completing his music studies in the United States, he went to Vienna, Austria to study classical music. Hogan returned to Louisiana State where he began his music career as a conductor and arranger.
Yesterday we learned that there are different categories of spirituals, such as lullabies, work songs, songs of sorrow and of joy, songs to offer hope, and songs based on Bible stories. There were also what were known as ‘coded’ songs.
WHAT ARE 'CODED' SPIRITUALS?
Coded spirituals had lyrics that were hidden messages to slaves wanting to escape to the northern states through the organization called the UndergroundRailroad. For example, the spiritual “swing low, sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home”, indicated that it was time to leave for the north. Songs about crossing the river Jordan referred to the Ohio River, where someone would meet the runaway and guide them to a safe place.
"Swing Low, Sweet Chariot"
"Wade in the Water"
Songs about entering a river advised the slaves to travel through water so pursuing dogs could not smell their scent and track them. You can watch a short PBS documentary about coded songs below, under today's listening example, “Wade in the Water”. The choir sings a background chant while a soloist sings the lead melody.
Moses Hogan had many accomplishments in his music career. During his piano performance years, he won first place in the 28th Annual Chopin Competition in New York. He introduced the professional choral spiritual to choirs. Choral means music for a choir to sing. With his music, Hogan created new interest in the tradition of African-American spirituals. He founded and conducted the Moses Hogan Chorale Singers. He was well-known throughout the world as a conductor and led the famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir, along with others. Hogan composed and arranged over seventy spirituals.
Moses Hogan Chorale Singers, reunited
Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra
Spirituals have been around for over two hundred years. They were not written down, but were passed down through oral tradition, like folklore. On modern printed music, where a composer’s name usually goes, you will see the word “anonymous” or “traditional”, or "African-American Spiritual". That is because we don’t know who actually made up the song. Spirituals were originally sung in unison without accompaniment. Unison means everyone sings the melody together, like you do in assembly. Today spirituals are best known in harmonized arrangements for choir, called choral music.
Moses Hogan's arrangements are quite unique. They generally fall into three categories of style: traditional, choral layering, and call and response.
‘Traditional’ is where all singers follow the same rhythm pattern but sing different pitches to make chords.
‘Choral layering’ is where different sections of a choir sing rhythms and melodies a little different from the others, creating interesting effects in the music.
'Call and response’ is a style that came from West Africa. A leader improvises a line of text and a chorus of singers echoes a refrain. The leader can use a vocal style full of slides, turns and rhythm variations.
Our listening example today is “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho”. ‘Fit’ is just an old-fashioned way of saying ‘fought’. This spiritual is based on a Bible story about a man named Joshua who led his men into battle at a city called Jericho, where the city walls fell down. The spiritual is in the style of choral layering. At the beginning of the video, Moses Hogan explains his reasons for writing the music the way he did.
MUSIC LISTENING LINKS
In this video, Moses Hogan explains how he uses choral layering to create an effect of conflict. 'Fit the battle' means 'fought' the battle.
Hear a children's Honor Choir sing a Moses Hogan spiritual known as "Over My Head, I Hear Music in the Air".
Click below to hear an example of 'call and response'.
This performance is by the Moses Hogan Chorale Singers at a ten-year reunion.
Listening Example: "I've Got Peace Like a River"
Spirituals have provided an important legacy for the development of American music. Their descendants include southern gospel, blues, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, jazz and even hip hop. Many spirituals are played as instrumental music rather than being sung. For example, “When the Saints Go Marching In” has been popular as a march for parades and school bands.
It has also been played in Dixieland jazz style by artists such as Louis Armstrong, and the Turk Murphy jazz band.
Traditional style spirituals were first brought to the attention of southern and northern Americans in 1871, shortly after the Civil War ended. An African-American singing group called the Fisk Jubilee Singers was formed at Fisk University in Nashville, TN. The group was organized to tour and raise funds for the African-American college. Some of the nine singers and their families were freed slaves. They toured along the Underground Railroad path in the United States, as well as performing in Europe. The Fisk Singers continue to tour today, often performing Moses Hogan’s arrangements.
Fisk Jubilee Singers 1872 Nashville, TN
Fisk Jubilee Singers today
The Moses Hogan Singers was formed in 1998. This professional ensemble of 28 singers is drawn from all over the country. They are a virtuoso group capable of exhilarating power and mystical quiet. The sound of the ensemble is rich, complex, warm and expressive, perfect for interpreting the many moods of Hogan’s spiritual arrangements. Moses Hgsan died at the age of 45 of a brain tumor, but the tradition of a cappella spiritual singing is alive and well in choirs throughout the world today. On November 20, 1999, the first “Negro Spiritual/Moses Hogan Chorale Day” was designated.
Moses Hogan Chorale Singers
We end our week of spirituals with a jubilee song that you can sing along with and clap your hands to if you wish.
MUSIC LISTENING LINKS
Sing along with "I've Got Peace Like a River".
Students will enjoy singing along with this blues-rock version of "I'm Gonna Sing" with lyrics.
Click below to hear a 'blues' version of "Ride This Train" performed live in Memphis.
Weiner Elementary School, 313 N. Garfield St., Weiner, AR 72479 870-684-2252(o) 870-684-2684(f) (We are not responsible for any content on any page linked from our page)