The plantation songs known as 'spirituals' are the spontaneous outbursts of intense religious fervour, and had their origin chiefly in camp meetings, revivals and other religious exercises.
They were never 'composed', but sprang into life, ready made, from the white heat of religious fervour during some protracted meeting in camp or church, as the simple ecstatic utterance of wholly untutored minds, and are practically the only music in America which meets the scientific definition of Folk Song.
Harry Burleigh became a linguist, singing in Hebrew as well as Latin, Italian, French and German. For several years he regarded his casual efforts at composition as merely mental exercises until friends virtually forced him to publish. 'Deep River', published in 1917, made Harry Burleigh well known as a composer. His 'Little Mother Of Mine' was sung throughout the world by John McMormack.