This morning I heard a sweet Christian song that I thought was a spiritual. It turns out it was written in the 20th century, but it certainly had the sound of a spiritual.
Before and during slaves sang spirituals. Often times they had at least two levels. One was the yearning to be free. At times the word freedom was used. Sometimes the theme was a little big veiled such as in “Go Down Moses” with the words “Let my people go!”
And of course the spirituals included worship of God.
The song I heard concluded with “I will sing to the Lord until I die.”
I checked and the song is called “I will trust in the Lord until I die.” It was written by Reverend C. L. Franklin, pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit. He was also a Civil Rights’ activist, so the verse that says “I will stay on the battlefield until I die” may well be referring to that involvement.
I could not find the phrase “I will sing to the Lord until I die.” The last verse sums up each of the verses of Rev. Franklin’s song: “I’m goin’ to watch, fight, and pray until I die.” The first verse is “I’m going to trust the Lord until I die.”
Rev. Franklin was said to have a “million dollar voice.” He had several children, one of whom inherited his singing ability. You can hear her sing her father’s song on YouTube. Growing up in Detroit as she did she was a founding participant of the MoTown sound. She was and always be “The Queen of Soul.”
None other than Aretha Franklin.
And now you know… the rest of the story!