Day 13 — Share Your Music: 30 Days, 30 Songs

I have been seeing many photos of beautiful flowing rivers on some blogs recently.  Oh how those rivers make my heart sing.  Whether it is oceans, rivers or streams, it seems that most of us have a spiritual connection with water.  That’s not surprising really, considering where we all come from.  For me, rivers are akin to the blood flowing through my veins.

Anyway, when I saw the river photos, I also heard a song — Deep River — and I thought perhaps this might be a good song for the song challenge.  Still, I hesitated and wondered why.  Was it because the song was so deeply rooted in a tradition and a belief system in which I had no stake?  I asked myself why it was acceptable to pay tribute to chorale music from centuries past, but not pay tribute to chorale (spiritual) music of the recent past?  When it came down to it, I felt embarrassed and intimidated.  How horrifying!  I think my apprehension stemmed from the divisiveness based around religion and traditional values, that has become so much a part of Australia’s political and cultural landscape of late.  In other words, completely nonsensical.  So I dispatched those feelings post-haste.

I’ve written before about my experience singing in a gospel choir (see here).  Call it my gospel phase.  It is true that I am not a follower of a specific religion; I see myself more as a person of many faiths.

My choir had some amazing teachers who generously shared their knowledge of the gospel tradition, particularly in relation to African-American spirituals (apologies if I have got the term wrong).  I learnt from my teachers that slaves used gospel songs to communicate that an escape was planned.  I also learnt that rivers often represented both a physical (through an escape route) and spiritual (in the biblical sense) form of salvation.  You probably know all that, but for me it was a revelation.

I thought I would share a couple of my favourite gospel songs.  For today’s post, I found a version of Deep River sung by Marian Anderson.  Do my American readers know of Marian Anderson?  My goodness, what a story.  Apparently when she met Jean Sibelius, he said of her performance that she had managed to penetrate the Nordic soul (Wikipedia).  This only goes to prove that there are no borders in music.  If you don’t know her story, do yourself a favour and check it out.  Now, back to the music.  I hope you enjoy the song as much as I do.

Sarah at Art Expedition is hosting 30 Days, 30 Songs for the month of June. You can see her latest post here.  It is not too late to join in the challenge.  Casual players welcome.

Kind Regards.




18 thoughts on “Deep River

  1. Yes, I knew about Marian Anderson and the role that spirituals played in the lives of African Americans. Gospel music remains a foundation of American music for many, no matter their religion or ethnicity. So many great singers began in their church choirs. Water as a symbol of rebirth and life is a universal symbol, transcending cultures and countries. Who doesn’t ingest the vision and sound of water, whether a vast ocean, a trickling fountain, or a cascading waterfall? “Deep River” is a wonderful choice, Tracy, and Ms. Anderson’s voice and her interpretation transcends time and place. Her life’s story is amazing.

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  2. Beautiful song and voice Tracy. Thank you for posting this. Although I’m not religious, I like a lot of church music, but my experience of it is very much in the European tradition.

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  3. I’m so glad you dispatched those feelings, Tracy – what a beautiful song! I haven’t heard it before and it left me with goosebumps all over. Her voice is simply glorious – I will definitely check out her history.

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  4. There is a current body of research in the West related to “Spiritual Independents” those who have been raised in a tradition, have moved on, have a sense to the spiritual and embrace aspects of several traditions, or even none. This is a moving away from the institutions.

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