spir·it·u·al / ˈspirichoōəl/ •
adj. 1. of, relating to, or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things: I'm responsible for his spiritual welfare the spiritual values of life. ∎ (of a person) not concerned with material values or pursuits.2. of or relating to religion or religious belief: Iran's spiritual leader.•
n. (also Negro spiritual) a religious song of a kind associated with black Christians of the southern U.S., and thought to derive from the combination of European hymns and African musical elements by black slaves.PHRASES: one's spiritual home a place in which one feels a profound sense of belonging: I had always thought of Italy as my spiritual home.DERIVATIVES: spir·it·u·al·i·ty / ˌspirichoōˈalitē/ n.spir·it·u·al·ly adv.
Folk-hymn which developed during Amer. religious revival
1740 and took its name from ‘spiritual song’, the term by which publishers distinguished it from hymns and metrical psalms. Negroes attended revivalist meetings and their characteristic adaptations of spirituals became the religious folk-songs of the Amer. Negro, e.g. Swing low, sweet chariot
, Go down Moses
, Deep River
, etc. Became prominent c.
1871 in concerts by Fisk Jubilee Singers, but even better known in 20th cent. through singing of Paul Robeson and Marian Anderson. Dvořák was deeply touched by Negro spirituals, though their influence on his Amer. works is arguable; and Tippett used some very effectively as chorales in his oratorio A Child of Our Time
A type of American folk hymn of the 18th–19th cent. ‘White’ spirituals appeared on the American frontier, in the forms of religious ballads and camp-meeting choruses, characterized by repetitions and refrains. ‘Black’ spirituals, the religious songs of slaves, are better known, partly on account of their musical idiom, and partly because of the intensity of feeling.