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What refrains, both lines and entire stanzas, appear in each song or spiritual?

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reedcapps | Student, Grade 10 | Honors

Posted July 5, 2013 at 2:47 AM via web

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What refrains, both lines and entire stanzas, appear in each song or spiritual?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 5, 2013 at 4:37 AM (Answer #1)

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In "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," the refrain that emerges is "Comin' for to carry me home."  It is every other verse of the song.  Even the title is only present in the first line.  The refrain continues to appear every other line, as if to punctuate all other experiences.  Friends are referenced, angels are mentioned, what will happen in the conditional are all facets of the spiritual.  However, the refrain of "Comin' for to carry me home" drives the progression of the spiritual.  The implication is that one way or another, the notion of "home" will be delivered.  The narrative of struggle and enslavement has one ending which is "Comin' for to carry me home."

The refrain in "Go Down, Moses" is very direct, and like "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" it, too, punctuates the different experiences in the spiritual that precede it.  In the end, the condition of "Let my people go" becomes the end result to all subjugation.  Whatever comes of slavery and the condition of bondage, the result of this condition is a demand that must be heard:  "Let my people go."  The refrain is a defiant call for those in the position of power to end their subjugation or face grave consequences.  In this, the refrain is a demand to change that which exists into what should be.  With both spirituals, the refrains help to enhance the quality of the songs' call to freedom.

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