Spiritual and gospel - what´s the difference?
Spirituals like "Swing low, sweet chariot" or "Oh when the saints" are some of the most famous songs, not only in the country where they come from, the USA. Also gospel songs ("Oh happy day") are performed by choirs all around the world - but what is the difference between spiritual and gospel?
Spirituals are religious folk songs created and first sung by African Americans in slavery. Their original composers are unknown. Many songs use call and response with changes between the leader and the group. The lyrics were often taken from the Bible, and in many songs the slaves dreamed of freedom and the end of slavery, using a code language that their masters could not understand.
Gospel music first appeared in the black churches around 1920. The lyrics of these new songs dealt with praising the Lord. Each gospel song has an identifiable composer. Gospel combines musical elements of spiritual and blues.
Gospel music can cause many different emotions. The audience for this spiritually moving music continues to grow as well as the places where it can be heard. After a certain time, as it is no longer bound to the walls of the American church, gospel music captures the creative and spiritual imaginations of an increasing number of international audiences. For gospel singers and listeners, making a joyful noise up to the Lord is what the music is about and it invites the participation of all to come together, honour the past, look forward to the future, and through song, renew our faith.