Negro spiritual music: only the black notes
Gospel singer Wintley Phipps, speaking to an audience at Carnegie Hall, told his listeners that just about every Negro spiritual was written using only the black notes of the piano—the pentatonic scale or the “slave scale.” Songs written with this scale by white songwriters were called white spirituals, and perhaps the most famous white spiritual of all time, Amazing Grace, was written by a man named John Newton, a former captain of a slave ship. “It has a haunting, haunting plaintive quality to it that reaches past your arrogance, past your pride, and it speaks to that part of you that’s in bondage. And we feel it. We feel it. It’s just one of the most amazing melodies in all of human history.”
Introducing his own stirring rendition (see below) of Amazing Grace, Phipps declared with powerful conviction:
I believe that God wanted that song written just as it was written so that we would be reminded that as Christians, whether black or white, free or bond, in His eyes, we are all connected…we are connected…we are connected by God’s amazing grace!
We are connected by God’s amazing grace!
Amen, Amen, Amen. I’ve never heard this song done more movingly.
Have you ever been touched by this Amazing Grace?