St Peter's School and Church, Walworth

St Peter's School and Church, Walworth

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

J is for Jubilee Singers - Walworth A to Z

J is for Jubilee Singers
The Jubilee Singers at the Court of Queen Victoria - Edmund Havel 1873

In the summer of 1873 a party of Afro-Americans toured Britain performing concerts of negro-spirituals, a style of music that was largely unfamiliar to these shores. The eleven piece choir from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, was made up of former slaves and consisted of seven women and four men. Everywhere they went they were greeted with rapturous applause, and were privileged to sing before Queen Victoria, the Prime Minister William Gladstone and other members of parliament. The Queen was so enchanted with the beautiful vocals that she ordered a painting to be made of the singers, which hangs in Fisk University to this very day. Charles Hadden Spurgeon was thrilled to give over the Metropolitan Tabernacle to have them put on a concert for his large congregation. “They have something about them which I have never heard before in anything ever given by way of a performance. There is a real mystery and deep theology in this singing that we can hardly understand.”
The soon to be demolished Arthur Street Chapel on the left of picture, 1955. 
The Arthur Street Chapel at Camberwell Gate – situated on what is now the Gateway Estate, Walworth – hosted the show on the night of July 4th, American Independence Day. The Jubilee Singers sang Go Down Moses, Steal Away To Jesus, John Brown’s Body and many other songs of slavery. Swing Low Sweet Chariot, now the official anthem of England’s Rugby Union team, was heard in the UK for the very first time.

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