African American Children's Songs

John Henry raced a steam drill -- and won.
John Henry raced a steam drill -- and won.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

African-American children's songs reflect a culture forged by blending the traditions of Africa with slaves' experiences in America. These songs tell about hardships as well as triumphs, and they describe a better world to come with peace, prosperity, and freedom. The thought of freedom was probably never very far from the minds of slaves, and these songs were sung with a lot of feeling and emotion.

The well-known selections of African-American music that you will find here give voice to that slave-born culture. They range from rousing spirituals like "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" to the yearning "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot." You'll also find humorous "Hambone" and the celebration of a steel-driving folk hero in "John Henry."

Follow the links below to find the words to these African-American children's songs:

Amazing Grace

Down by the Riverside

Get on Board, Little Children


He's Got the Whole World in His Hands

John Henry

Miss Mary Mack

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

Take This Hammer

This Little Light of Mine

This Train

For the sweet simplicity of "Amazing Grace," go to the next page.

For more children's stories and activities, check out:

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