WERE YOU THERE?
It was the third hour when they crucified Him. (Mark 15:25)
Folk songs are generally described as songs of which the origins have been lost but which express the heartfelt traditions and experiences of a particular culture or people. Therefore, they become greatly cherished by each succeeding generation.
The Negro spirituals represent some of the finest of American folk music. These songs are usually a blending of an African heritage, harsh remembrances from former slavery experiences, and a very personal interpretation of biblical stories and truths. They especially employ biblical accounts that give hope for a better life—such as the prospects of heaven. They symbolize so well the attitudes, hopes and religious feeling of the black race in America.
To better understand a Negro spiritual, one must feel even as a black singer does that he or she is actually present and very much involved in the event itself. The event being sung—in this case the story of Christ’s suffering, death, and ultimate resurrection—becomes a very intensely emotional experience. It is told with much feeling and freedom of spirit, generally without any instrumental accompaniment.
The lesson for each of us to learn from a Negro spiritual like this is that truths such as the redemptive work of Christ must have much more than just our mental assent. The biblical account must become a very personal conviction in our lives, and our very souls should be gripped by its emotional power.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?
Were you there when they pierced Him in the side?
Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?
Were you there when God raised Him from the dead?
Sometimes I feel like shouting glory, glory, glory! When I think how God raised Him from the dead!
For Today: Isaiah 53:4–12; Matthew 20:28; 1 Peter 2:24; Revelation 1:5, 6
Imagine yourself standing at the foot of the cross when Christ was tortured and crucified. Then place yourself outside the empty tomb when the angelic announcement “He is not here …” was given. Try to relive the emotional feelings that would have been yours. Allow this song to minister to you as you go through the day—
Osbeck, K. W.
- Surely, he hath born our infirmities, and carried our sorrows, yet we did judge him as plagued and smitten of God, and humbled. But he was wounded for our transgressions: he was broken for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes are we healed. All we like sheep have gone astray: we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid upon him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet did he not open his mouth: he is brought as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearer is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. He was taken out from prison, and from judgment: and who shall declare his age?for he was cut out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he plagued. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no wickedness, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet the Lord would break him and make him subject to infirmities: when he shall make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed and shall prolong his days, and the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisified; by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many: for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I give him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he hath poured out his soul unto death; and he was counted with the transgressors, and he bare the sin of many, and prayed for the trespassers. Isaiah 53:4–12
- Even as the Son of man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life for the ransom of many. Matthew 20:28
- Who his own self bare our sins in his body on the tree, that we being dead to sin, should live in righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray: but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls. 1 Peter 2:24
- And from Jesus Christ which is that faithful witness, and that first begotten of the dead, and that Prince of the Kings of the earth, unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his blood. And made us Kings and Priests unto God even his Father, to him, I say, be glory, and dominion for evermore, Amen. Revelation 1:5-6