Go Down, Moses Essay

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Erica Smith is a writer and editor. In this essay she discusses the history, imagery, and cultural impact of the spiritual "Go Down, Moses."

"Go Down, Moses" is a spiritual, a kind of African-American religious folk song. Spirituals were first sung in earlyAmerica by African-American slaves. These songs were related to Christian hymns—songs based on the Bible and sung in the churches of white Americans. But spirituals also had the unique features of African music, including call-and-response singing (in which one person sings a phrase and others respond) and improvisation (in which verses are made up on the spot, often commenting on an issue or conflict of the present moment).

"Go Down, Moses" recounts the incident in the Old Testament of the Bible in which Moses led the Jews out ofEgypt. Because these Jews had been slaves, African-American slaves felt a strong connection with their plight. They...

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This section contains 1,602 words
(approx. 5 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Go Down, Moses Study Guide
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Poetry for Students
Go Down, Moses from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.