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Audio book - Breaking The Chains chp 6 Music For Jesus Lyrics of Freedom

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The Gist of Freedom

The Gist of Freedom


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Chapter 6, Music for Jesus Lyrics of Freedom; Chapter 7 Flight and Revolt, Runaways and Maroons

Michael Row the Boat Ashore

"Michael, Row the Boat Ashore" is an African-american spiritual. It was first noted during the American Civil War at St. Helena Island, one of the Sea Islands of South Carolina, USA.

The song was sung by former slaves whose owners had abandoned the island before the Union navy arrived to enforce a blockade. Charles Pickard Ware, an abolitionist and Harvard graduate who had come to supervise the plantations on St. Helena Island wrote the song down in music notation as he heard the freedmen sing.

The lyric describes the simple crossing of the River Jordan with macabre undertones provided by reference to trumpets, eternal life and unknown lands. Despite its deathly connotations the song is affirming, a celebration of faith under oppression.


 “This book will force many readers to reexamine their assumptions about American history… Young readers will be fascinated and better informed for having experienced this book,” wrote School Library Journal. Striking photographs highlight this unknown heritage.”
— Black Child Magazine, February/March 1997

Introduction, Fighting Bondage on Land and Sea, The First Rebels, Daily Toil, Perilous Struggle, A Troublesome Property, The Battle for Family and Knowledge, Disrupting Plantation Life, Industrial and Urban Resistance, Music for Jesus, Lyrics of Freedom, Flight and Revolt, Runaways and Maroons, Revolts in the Age of Revolution, Nineteenth-Century Slave Rebels, The Fiery Abolitionists, Marching to Freedom, The Slave's Civil War, The Bayonets of Freedom, From Slave Liberation .