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"Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" (or simply "Motherless Child") is a traditional Negro spiritual.

The song dates back to the era of slavery in the United States when it was common practice to sell children of slaves away from their parents. An early performance of the song dates back to the 1870s by the Fisk Jubilee Singers.[1][2] Like many traditional songs, it has many variations and has been recorded widely (see partial lists of choral arrangements and covers below).

The song is clearly an expression of pain and despair as it conveys the hopelessness of a child who has been torn from his or her parents. Under one interpretation, the repetitive singing of the word "sometimes" offers a measure of hope, as it suggests that at least "sometimes" I do not feel like a motherless child.[3]

Although the plaintive words can be interpreted literally, they might alternatively be metaphoric. The “motherless child” could be a slave separated from and yearning for his or her African homeland, his or her spouse, parents, siblings or child(ren) (from all or any of which he or she may have been separated in the trafficking process) or a slave suffering “a long ways from home”—home being heaven—or most likely all.

Notable versions and covers[edit]Edit

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