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The Spirituals and the Blues

A study in the book by James Coney

Lead by Barry Harvey

2021 Lenten Formation

“I am the blues and my life is a spiritual. Without them, I cannot be.” These words of James Cone, one the most influential African-American writers over the last fifty years, come from the introduction to his book The Spirituals and the Blues. Cone describes how black Christians responded to their suffering and expressed their hope through these musical forms. During the season of Lent we shall read through this powerful work, opening ourselves to what Dietrich Bonhoeffer calls “an experience of incomparable value…to see the great events of world history from below, from the perspective of the outcast, the suspects, the maltreated, the powerless, the oppressed and reviled, in short, from the perspective of the suffering.” Though Cone uses the spirituals and blues to tell the story of the faith of sisters and brothers in Christ as they endured slavery, Jim Crow, and racial inequities and indignities, technical musical knowledge is not required.



Introduction and Chapter One
Interpretations of the Black Spirituals


Chapter Two
The Black Spirituals and Black Experience


Chapter Three
God and Jesus Christ in the Black Spirituals

March 14

Chapter Four
God and Black Suffering

March 21

Chapter Five
The Meaning of Heaven in the Black Spirituals

March 28

Chapter Six The Blues: A Secular Spiritual

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