David Holsinger, composer
On An American Spiritual is a surprising departure from the two
previous hymnsong compositions by David Holsinger.
We expect the plaintive opening ("Were you there when they crucified my
Lord?...") and the majestic closing ("Were you there when He rose up from
the dead?..."), but the chaotic, brutal nature of the center section would
seem greatly out of place until one reminds oneself of the lyrics of this
Easter Lament, where the center verses recount how they "nailed Him to the
tree" and "laid Him in the grave."
With this in mind, one realizes that Holsinger’s variation draws heavily
on the traditional verses for inspiration and understanding.