Gospel and Patriotic Songs
Selected by a panel working under E.D. Hirsch as necessary cultural background in order to read fluently at the college level. They have been exploited here to also give some listening practice, to introduce some vocabulary, and perhaps most importantly, to teach English sentence stress.
Although they are popular in the same way as folk songs, and have deep roots in the culture as do folk songs, I have separated these songs out from a separate volume of folk songs because of their religious and nationalistic nature. Religion and politics can be awkward to discuss in unfamiliar company, and so, I feel this selection must be held apart in case their introduction might offend some. Use your judgement.
Nevertheless, if you truly want to understand American culture, and so understand what Americans are talking and thinking about, you really do need to understand traditional American religious and political attitudes, as shown in these songs.
To many Americans, these are the most important things in life. Some say, in fact, that the US is a nation uniquely founded on religion (the Protestant Christianity of the Pilgrim sect that settled New England) and on specific political views (Liberty, Democracy, and Human Rights, the claimed objectives of the revolution with which America became independent).