The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #24482   Message #280105
Posted By: Joe Offer
18-Aug-00 - 04:32 AM
Thread Name: Origins: Twelve Gates to the City
Subject: RE: 12 Gates to the City/Wade in the Water
Another song that used "dressed in red...dressed in white...etc." is "Go Tell It on the Mountain." I have songbooks that use the "dressed" verses for both "Wade in the Water" and "Twelve Gates." I'm sure we could find many other songs that use those words. In fact, I think we had a thread discussing that.
-Joe Offer-

Here is the Traditional Ballad Index entry on this song:

Twelve Gates to the City

DESCRIPTION: Spiritual: "Oh, what a beautiful city/There's twelve gates to the city, halleluiah"; "Three gates in the east, three gates in the west/Three gates in the north, three gates in the south."
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1929 (recording, Norfolk Jubilee Quartet)
KEYWORDS: nonballad religious
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Warren-Spirit, pp. 72-73, "Oh! What a Beautiful City" (1 text, 1 tune)
PSeeger-AFB, p. 81, "Twelve Gates to the City" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 349, "Twelve Gates to the City" (1 text)

Marian Anderson, "Oh! What a Beautiful City" (Victor 10-1040, 1943)
Blind Gary [Davis], "Twelve Gates to the City" (ARC 7-04-55, 1937; rec. 1935) (1992, on "Harlem Street Singer," Prestige Bluesville CD OBCCD-547-2(BV-1015); recorded 1960))
Blind Boy Fuller w. Sonny Terry, "Twelve Gates to the City" (Vocalion 05465, 1940)
Galilee Singers, "What a Beautiful City" (Decca 7765, 1940)
Norfolk Jubilee Quartet, "Oh What a Beautiful City" (Paramount 12929, 1930; rec. 1929)
Pete Seeger & Sonny Terry, "Twelve Gates to the City" (on SeegerTerry)
Pete Seeger, "Beautiful City" (on PeteSeeger18)); "Twelve Gates to the City" (on PeteSeeger42); "Oh, What a Beautiful City [Twelve Gates to the City]" (on PeteSeeger47)
Sonny Terry [pseud., Saunders Terrell], "Beautiful City" (on Terry01)

cf. "Tell My Mother" (floating lyrics)
Oh, What a Beautiful City
NOTES: I know there are earlier recordings of this piece (it was a showpiece for Rev. Gary Davis), and probably earlier printed citations too, but I haven't found them yet. - PJS
The image of the heavenly city may possibly be derived from Chapter 21 of the Apocalypse, which mentions "the holy city, the new Jerusalem" (21:2), but the twelve gates of the city, three on each side, although mentioned in 21:3, are ultimately taken from Ezekiel 48:30-34. - RBW
Last updated in version 4.1
File: PSAFB081

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The Ballad Index Copyright 2016 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.

And the Digital Tradition lyrics:


cho: Oh, what a beautiful city.
Oh, what a beautiful city
Oh, what a beautiful city
Twelve gates to the city, Hallelujah

Three gates in the east,
Three gates in the west,
Three gates in the north
Three gates in the south
There's twelve gates to the city, Hallelujah.

Who are those children dressed in red?
There's twelve gates to the city, Hallelujah
Must be the children that Moses led
There's twelve gates to the city, Hallelujah

My God done just what He said
He healed the sick and He raised the dead.

When I get to heaven gonna sing and shout
Ain't nobody there gonna put me out.

Recorded by Gary Davis
@religion @spiritual
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