Children of the Heav'nly King
Religious Expression in the Central Blue Ridge
Rounder (

In 1978, the American Folklife Center joined the National Park Service in the Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project, a field study of spiritual traditions in the Virginia-North Carolina border country. This two-disc release mines the Library of Congress permanent collection in a penetrating profile of the region's expressive spiritual idioms, white and black: spirituals and lining hymns, prayers and sermons, a tent revival, a creek baptism by immersion, allegorical visions and personal testimonies of conversion and calls to the ministry, family-centered gospel trio and quartet performances. The visually engaging 100-page booklet annotates the 26 tracks, providing the cultural, historical and scholarly context for comprehending the region's manifold Primitive and Regular Baptist, Holiness and Revivalist traditions. These tracks reveal the enduring folk heterophony of voices raised in praise and devotion, and the intersecting influence of Anglo- and African-American religious song in the Blue Ridge. They illustrate how religion embodies a people's attitudes, assumptions, practices and beliefs about the nature of the cosmos, the cause of death and affliction, and the means to ward off human misfortune, or at least to confront it with a certain dignity and resolve. Expressive of cultural identity in its most fundamental revelation, the recording reveals an enduring paradox: religion endorses the dominant social ideology of everyday life while voicing the promise - ambivalent, revolutionary or both - of a more perfect and egalitarian world. - Michael Stone

Will You Subscribe?