This course is
an examination of the Psalms and Negro Spirituals and their
contexts and functions in their respective communities.
We will critically examine the contexts that produced Negro
Spirituals and Psalms. Using
the texts of the Psalms and Spirituals we will catalogue the
various functions of these prayers and songs.
Whenever possible, we will listen to the psalms and
spirituals as they are expressed through song or chanting.
The similarities and differences between the music of these
communities will create a dialogue that will provide a deeper
understanding of the theology that is inherent in the Spirituals
and the Psalms. Wrestling
with the theology of these materials will help us better
understand how they might best function in our contemporary
and informed participation in daily class sessions is
required. Students will be expected to generate two questions
or comments each day from the assigned readings.
student taking the course for credit will be expected to give
a brief presentation on the final session of class, June 25,
2004, based on the
fifteen-page paper will be due on Monday, July 5, 2004.
The paper may focus on either
the Psalms or the Negro Spirituals, but must form a dialogue
with the other. In other words, if your final paper is on the Psalms of
Lament, you will need to make some connection with Negro
your paper focuses on some genre of the Negro Spirituals, you
must uncover the relationship between the Spirituals and the
Psalms. All paper
topics must be approved by the instructor and students
will be expected to follow the Hartford Seminary Style Sheet.
You may submit your paper electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org
or you may mail it to: Judy Fentress-Williams, 3737 Seminary
Road, Alexandria, VA 22304.
(Available for purchase and on library reserve):
recent translation of the Bible, either the NRSV or the Tanakh by
Jewish Publication Society
The Art of Biblical
Poetry. New York:
Harper Collins, 1985.
Psalms and the Life of Faith.
Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995.
James H. Cone.
The Spirituals and the Blues.
Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1972.
Johnson and Rosamond Johnson. The
Books of American Negro Spirituals.
Da Capo Press, 1954.
Religion. New York: Oxford University Press, 1978.
River and The Negro Spiritual Speaks of Life and Death.
Richmond, Indiana: Friends United Press, 1975.
Bring your Bible and The Books of American Negro Spirituals to each class meeting.
to the Psalms: Overview of Scholarship, Parallelism, Genres
to the Spirituals: Overview, Slavery and the Invisible
Negro Spiritual Speaks of Life and Death
Johnson & Johnson, pp. 11-50
the Psalms and Spirituals
Thurman, pp. 7-30
Lament and Sorrow Songs
The Dialogic Journey Towards Healing
Psalms of Praise
pp. 31-40, 53-57
The Psalms and Spirituals in Context
Cone, pp. 78-130
Thurman, pp. 49-52, 63-94