Knowing that spirituals were often "code" songs for escape from slavery, what are the hidden messages in these songs?
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"Go Down, Moses" directly reflects the drive to escape slavery and achieve freedom. Moses was the Biblical leader sent by God to lead the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt after confronting Pharoah. The song's chorus contains the directions given to Moses and the message he was to deliver to Pharoah. "Go down, Moses - way down in Egypt land. Go tell old Pharoah to let my people go." This song could have been used to herald the anticipated activities of any potential liberator or planned escape of a group of slaves, as well as a means of encouraging each other in anticipation of future liberation.
"Swing Low Sweet Chariot" expresses the yearning of the slaves to be carried across the Jordan River, moving from the land of enslavement to freedom in an earthly home on the other side of the river or to an eternal freedom in their heavenly home. It voices the confidence that the day of deliverance is coming for all. "If you get there before I do, tell all my friends that I'm coming too." The lyrics expressed the determination to continue the struggle until all were free.
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