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Steal away

author of text

The heritage of black American spirituals—the religious folksongs of the southern slaves—was first brought to international attention in the 1870s by the performances of groups such as the Jubilee Singers from Tennessee and by the publication of collections. Since then, each generation has in different ways made this heritage its own, and such is the inherent strength of the songs themselves that they have transcended every style of arrangement and performance. Early collectors testify that spirituals were originally sung in a kind of embellished unison, but it was not long before harmonized choral arrangements began to be popular, influenced perhaps by white hymnody. The sophisticated, lush choral versions heard in earlier twentieth-century concert programmes often tended towards sentimentality; the spare, almost angular reworkings of five familiar spirituals in Tippett’s A child of our time (1942) set a new style. Steal away is typical of many spirituals in that its subject-matter is the slaves’ longing for the reward of heaven after the hardship and misery of earthly life.

from notes by Collegium Records © 2000


Blessed spirit
COLCD127Download only


Track 10 on COLCD127 [3'14] Download only

Track-specific metadata for COLCD127 track 10

Recording date
Recording venue
Ely Cathedral, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Recording engineer
Hyperion usage
  1. Blessed spirit (COLCD127)
    Disc 1 Track 10
    Release date: October 2000
    Download only
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