A Spiritual for Freedom (Oliver Barton)

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Editor: Oliver Barton (submitted 2003-04-15).   Score information: A4, 30 pages, 1 MB   Copyright: Personal
Edition notes: Full, chorus and organ scores available.

General Information

Title: A Spiritual for Freedom
Composer: Oliver Barton

Number of voices: 4vv   Voicing: SATB
Genre: SacredCantata

Language: English
Instruments: Organ

First published:

Description: The Spiritual was written for a concert commemorating Amnesty International’s 40th anniversary. It uses the simplicity and heavy work rhythms of spirituals to deliver a powerful plea for freedom. All the spiritual melodies are new, the words based on fragments of existing spirituals. At the heart of the piece, a reader reads a passage from the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, 1845, while the choir and soloists keen. The atmosphere at the end is one of ecstatic and optimistic exhaustion after a long ride of powerful emotion.

External websites:

Original text and translations

English.png English text

Spare me, Lord!
When I speak the truth, then hundred lash for me.
I cried out for justice and freedom of speech,
And they done lock me up with the key out of reach.
Spare me, Lord!
’Cos I spoke the truth, there’s prison cell for me.
They beat me and starve me and want me to die,
But I’m staying strong, Lord, I ain’t going to cry.
I speak the truth, I do, Lord.

When I cry for freedom they done torture me.
Free me, Lord!
Let it be near, O my Lord!
Free me, Lord,
My brother, my sister, is the promised day near?
For we mighty sad and sore from suff’ring here
Let it be near, O my Lord!

We’ll soon be free
My brother how long,
’Fore we done suff’ring here?
It won’t be long
‘Fore the Lord will call us home.
We’ll walk the road, miry road,
Where pleasure lies,
We’ll walk the street,
Where pleasure never dies.
Oh, my Lord, how long?

Promised morning is almost here,
Freedom wagon is drawing near,
Time to pray,
Save us today,
Free from bondage and free from fear.
Promised morning here, my Lord,
The freedom wagon at the door,
It stops outside,
Doors open wide,
so loose the shackles, climb aboard!

Throw off the chains,
And walk outside the door.
Step into daylight, the Lord has set us free.
’Cos the Lord has set us free,
Send up a cry,
Send up a shout,
Go tell the people the pris’ners are let out!
Sing out for freedom, sing out for peace,
Sing out for justice and never ever cease!
Oh glory, Lord,
Hear my cry, bring freedom to the whole wide world.
Hear them, Lord,
Hear your children’s cry,
hear them, O Lord, and bring them peace.
O Lord, hear us, Lord.