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Origins: Go Tell It on the Mountain

DigiTrad:
GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN
GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN (2)


edward.hubbell@mts.com 17 Jan 98 - 01:39 AM
Joe Offer 17 Jan 98 - 03:37 AM
Animaterra 17 Jan 98 - 07:35 AM
dick greenhaus 17 Jan 98 - 02:13 PM
Ferrara 17 Jan 98 - 11:32 PM
Bill D 18 Jan 98 - 12:32 PM
rich r 18 Jan 98 - 06:41 PM
John E 02 Nov 01 - 02:08 PM
DougR 02 Nov 01 - 03:26 PM
GUEST 02 Nov 01 - 04:39 PM
GUEST,Adrienne 02 Nov 01 - 07:02 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 02 Nov 01 - 08:14 PM
masato sakurai 02 Nov 01 - 09:18 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 02 Nov 01 - 09:55 PM
masato sakurai 02 Nov 01 - 10:22 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 03 Nov 01 - 12:13 AM
masato sakurai 03 Nov 01 - 12:43 AM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 03 Nov 01 - 01:31 AM
GUEST,cmiller 22 Nov 08 - 03:40 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 22 Nov 08 - 04:50 PM
Joe Offer 22 Nov 08 - 04:58 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 22 Nov 08 - 05:47 PM
Joe Offer 22 Nov 08 - 05:56 PM
Joe Offer 22 Nov 08 - 06:14 PM
Joe Offer 22 Nov 08 - 06:58 PM
Joe Offer 22 Nov 08 - 07:12 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 22 Nov 08 - 07:53 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 22 Nov 08 - 08:18 PM
Azizi 22 Nov 08 - 08:59 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 22 Nov 08 - 09:17 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 22 Nov 08 - 11:51 PM
GUEST,cmiller 30 Nov 08 - 04:52 PM
Ref 30 Nov 08 - 08:53 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 30 Nov 08 - 08:55 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 04 Jul 10 - 06:10 PM
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Subject: Go tell it on the Mountain
From: edward.hubbell@mts.com
Date: 17 Jan 98 - 01:39 AM

I swear when I first heard 'Go tell it on the Mountain', (when I learned it in music class in the 2nd grade) it had a verse that went something like -
    When I was a poor boy,
    I cried both night and day.
    I asked the Lord to help me,
    And he showed me the way.
As I recall, it was more of a spiritual than the Christmas version that is version #1 here. Maybe I'm just making that verse up in my head, but if anyone has any alternative verses to GTIOTM, I would appreciate hearing them. - Ed


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Subject: ADD Version: Go Tell It on the Mountain
From: Joe Offer
Date: 17 Jan 98 - 03:37 AM

Well, Ed - the database has the Christmas version and the "Who's that yonder dressed in white" version that was popular with the civil rights movement - use the box on the upper right corner of this page and search under [go tell it] (use the brackets for words in order). Your version is up there in my head somewhere, but I can't pull it out. I know there are other versions.

Here are some verses added for civil rights marches:
    Who's that yonder dressed in red...
    Must be the children Bob Moses led

    ...black...Uncle Toms turning back.

    ...blue....Registrars coming through.
And an alternate for another part:
    You know I would not be Governor Wallace*
    I'll tell you the reason why,
    I'd be afraid my Lord might call me
    And I would not be ready to die.
    Halleluia.

    (*Mayor Boutwell, Barry Goldwater, the segregationists, etc.)

    CHORUS:
    Go tell it on the mountain,
    Over the hills and everywhere,
    Go tell it on the mountain,
    To let my people go.

    -or-

    CHORUS:
    Go tell it on the mountain,
    Over the hills and everywhere,
    Go tell it on the mountain,
    That freedom is coming soon.


    (as sung by Fannie Lou Hamer at the State Convention of the Mississippi Democratic Party - date not shown)
    Source: Sing for Freedom: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement and Its Songs, edited and compiled by Guy and Candie Carawan (©Sing Out Corporation, 1960, 1990, 1992)


-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Go tell it on the Mountain
From: Animaterra
Date: 17 Jan 98 - 07:35 AM

Speaking as a public school music teacher, I betcha anything your teacher or source used that alternative verse to de-religify it!


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Subject: RE: Go tell it on the Mountain
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 17 Jan 98 - 02:13 PM

Since you bring him up---

Gov. Wallace was told by his doctor, "I have good nows and I have bad news."
"What's the good news?" asked the gov.
"You're going to die," said the doctor.
"My God! ...And the bad news?"
"Sickle cell anemia"


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Subject: RE: Go tell it on the Mountain
From: Ferrara
Date: 17 Jan 98 - 11:32 PM

Ed, When I learned the verse you're asking about, it went (best recollection)
    When I was a seeker, I sought both night and day,
    I asked the Lord to help me, and He showed me the way.
I thought it was the first verse, but it's given as about the next to last verse in Version 1 of GTIOTM in the DT database.

Mahalia Jackson sang Go Tell It On the Mountain and it seems to be on a lot of her disks and records. It's definitely on "Silent Night - Gospel Christmas" CD, and on the "Go Tell It On the Mountain" CD. She also has albums called Best Loved Spirituals and Gospel at its Best, that might have it. I would trust her version, whatever it is. (Now watch -- she'll have several versions, just for that!) - Good luck. It's a fine song.


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Subject: ADD Version: Go tell it on the Mountain^^^
From: Bill D
Date: 18 Jan 98 - 12:32 PM

Thanksgiving week of 1964, I was in Hattiesburg, Miss., with a group of 'outside agitators' from Kansas who were assisting on a voter registration drive. Part of this job consisted of picketing the courthouse during business hours....round & round a little 3 cornered walk in front, totally bored except for the occasional local who decided to use someone in line to test his spitting aim.

On about day 3 I was there, after about 2 hours, a young black girl directly in front of me in line(I guess she was about 14) just suddenly began slowly singing "Go Tell it on the Mountain" in an absolutely beautiful contralto! Of course, in 15 seconds, we were all singing, and I have never heard the power of song more wonderfully used! We sang the "red...black...etc". version, but in the old church mode and speed.....well, we sang about 4 1/2 verses before the sheriff appeared and told us in no uncertain terms that we "had a permit for walkin'...not no damn permit for singin'".. and that if we didn't shut up, we would all be arrrested. So, we shrugged and just marched....but that song was in everyones head all day and we had made the point and one more step. (Last I heard, Hattiesburg had a black mayor....)

Later, as I did more looking into what these songs were all about, I saw various of the versions from the original gospel to the cranked-up bluegrass. Here is the one that seems to be the original... found at this site...
http://www.christmas-tree.com/

GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN
    While shepherds kept their watching
    O'er silent flocks by night,
    Behold throughout the heavens
    There shone a holy light
      CHORUS
      Go, tell it on the mountain
      Over the hills and everywhere
      Go, tell it on the mountain
      That Jesus Christ is born.

    The shepherds deared and trembled
    When lo! above the earth
    Rang out the angel chorus
    That hailed our Savour's birth
    CHORUS

    Down in a lowly manger
    Our humble Christ was born;
    And God sent us salvation
    That blessed Christmas morn
    CHORUS

    When I was a seeker
    I sought both night and day
    I sought the Lord to help me
    And He showed me the way.
    CHORUS

    He made me a watchman
    Upon the city wall
    And if I am a Christian
    I am the least of all.
    CHORUS


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Subject: RE: Go tell it on the Mountain
From: rich r
Date: 18 Jan 98 - 06:41 PM

After going through whatever versions of "Go Tell It" that I could find [(Recordings: Christmas Revels, Lisa Neustadt, Mike & Peggy Seeger, Kingston Trio, Brothers 4, Simon & Garfunkel, Jack Haloran Singers, George Beverly Shea, Robert Shaw; and Books: Christmas In Song (T Preuss), Rise Up Singing (SO!), Sing OUt! Reprints, Methodist Hymnal, American Folk Songs For Christmas (R C Seeger)] there seems to be a lot of variation in the "When I was a seeker...." verse. Ed's "poor boy" verse would certainly fit in the collection, although I didn't specifically find it. What I did find.

When I was a learner, I sought both night and day/ I asked the Lord to help me and he showed me the way.

When I was a sinner, I prayed both night and day/ I asked the Lord....

When I was a sinner, I sinned both night and day/ I asked the lord to help me, and he taught me to pray.

I also encountered two verses that are not in the DT.

1. In the time of David, Some called hima a king/ And if a child is true born, Lord Jesus will here him sing (RC Seeger book, & Seegers and Neustadt recordings)

2. And lo when they had seen it, They all bowed down and prayed/ Then travelled on together, To where the babe was laid. (SO! and Revels)

The Christmas Revels also have an alternate verse 3, line 3 (DT): "And God sent down his angels that blessed...."

I would also humbly like to suggest that a typo exists in the first line of verse 2. I believed that "The shepherds deared and trembled" should be "feared and trembled".

The younger folk out there may not be aware that DT version 2, sung during the US civil rights movement of the 60's, was given wide circulation via a recording by Peter Paul & Mary.

Finally I came across a song that is clearly derivative of "Go Tell It" particularly the chorus. It was written by Ralph Stanley and Ernie Thacker and appears on the Ralph Stanley Christmas CD

"Jesus Christ Is Born" (Stanley & Thacker)

1. Many years ago, In a land so far away, In a town they called Bethlehem, In a manger a baby lay.

CH. Go tell it, (why don't you) tell it on the mountain, Over the hills and every where, Go tell it my brother, Jesus Christ is born.

2. Everyone who loved him, They came from near and far, Even the three wise men, were guided by the star.

CH

3. When the people saw him, They knew not what to say, Let's all remember Christmas, Our blessed Lord's birthday.

CH

rich r


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Subject: RE: Go tell it on the Mountain
From: John E
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 02:08 PM

I am refreshing this thread to find out what anyone knows about the origins of this (these?) song(s). Source info has been hard to come by. Thanks in advance.


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Subject: RE: Go tell it on the Mountain
From: DougR
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 03:26 PM

Bill D. Our college choir sang this song in concerts and the line you quote is the one we used (While Shepards, etc.) I think the musis was from the St. Olaf Choir series, and may been arranged by Rolf Christiansen.

Anmateria: I'll bet you're right about the teacher. What a shame. Here a great old Spiritual is re-written in order to be PC.

When I was at University, our choir sang "Alexander Nevesky" with the Dallas Symphony. Word got out to some of the service clubs in the Dallas area that we were going to be performing a Communist song. We were required (the Dallas Symphony was I guess) lyrics so that references to Russia were deleted. This was in the early 1950's and the Communist scare was at the forefront at that time. I can't remember all of the changed lyrics but here are some I do remember: "In a great campaign, Russia went to war." That was changed to, "In a great campaign we all went to war." Refrences to our "native Russian land" were changed to our "native motherland." Crazy.

Sorry for the creep.

DougR


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Subject: Kingston Trio: ADD: Round About the Mountain
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 04:39 PM

Maybe KT did "Go Tell It"--I just don't remember. They also did a cut they called "Round About the Mountain" and as I play verses in my head they seem interchangeable.
    I would not be a sinner; I'll tell you the reason why.
    If the Lord should want me, I would not be ready to die.

    I'll tell you, fellow members, things happen mighty strange.
    The Lord was good to Israel and His ways don't ever change.

    If you can't pray like Peter, if you can't preach like Paul,
    Go home and tell your neighbor that He died to save us all.
???

CC


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Subject: RE: Go tell it on the Mountain
From: GUEST,Adrienne
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 07:02 PM

Animaterra and DougR, I don't think the "poor boy" verse was an attempt at removing religion from the song, because that verse also contains the phrase "I asked the Lord to help me".


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Subject: RE: Go tell it on the Mountain
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 08:14 PM

Go Tell It On the Mountain (unnumbered version) in DT is the spiritual, as recorded by John W. Work in "American Negro Songs and Spirituals." The next to last verse (He made me a watchman, etc., appears in the version in Fenner and in Dett. In Fenner, and Dett, the last line of the chorus is "That Jesus Christ is a-born." Dett gives an easier melody in an Appendix and changes a-born to born.
This carol was first printed in 1874, thus is one of the older ones recorded. Other modifications are more recent.


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Subject: Lyr ADD: Go tell it on the Mountain
From: masato sakurai
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 09:18 PM

GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN
(Christmas Plantation Song)

1.
When I was a seeker
I sought both night an' day,
I ask' de Lord to help me,
An' He show' me de way........

(Chorus)
Go tell it on de mountain,
Over de hills an' everywhere;
Go tell it on de mountain,
Dat Jesus Christ is born.

2.
He made me a watchman
Upon a city wall,
An' if I am a christian,
I am de least of all........

(Chorus)

SOURCE: Hampton Institute, Religious Folk Songs of the Negro, new edition [from the original edition by Thomas P. Fenner](1920; reprint AMS, 1973, p. 174, with tune)

Contrary to the notes in Rise Up Singing (p. 209), this song is not contained in "CABIN AND PLANTATION SONGS" by Thomas P. Fenner, appendixed to Hampton and its Students (1874). I may be wrong, but my guess is the 1909 edition (from which the song is quoted in The New Oxford Book of Carols, p. 573, with tune; and in Peters, Lyrics of the Afro-American Spiritual, p. 351) is the earliest.

~Masato


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Subject: RE: Go tell it on the Mountain
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 09:55 PM

I saw the two versions in Dett and saw it listed in the Cleveland Index as Fenner, p. 174; thus decided I didn't have to look in Fenner's original. Always wrong to assume! Masato is correct, I checked and it isn't there. The Cleveland Index is also wrong! The page they cite has "Peter, Go Ring Dem Bells." I don't have the 1891 Hampton enlarged edition, so I don't know what was added then.
The edition of 1909, edited by Dett, has the version to which I referred. It is given with music on p. 78. A revised and slightly simplified version on p. III of the Appendix is the one Masato quotes. (AMS reprint of Hampton Institute's 1927 edition).


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Subject: RE: Go tell it on the Mountain
From: masato sakurai
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 10:22 PM

Dicho,

I don't think the Cleveland Index is wrong. The editions from which they made the index are Dett (1927) and Fenner (1909), listed on p. 2.

~Masato


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Subject: RE: Go tell it on the Mountain
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 03 Nov 01 - 12:13 AM

The Cleveland Index (the one I have courtesy WYSIWYG) is wrong in listing Fenner p. 174 under "Go Tell..." because it is not there. They do list Dett, both variants. The preface to the 1909 edition of the Hampton volume is by Moton of Tuskegee ("for the fifth time we are publishing"), who became leader of the Plantation Songs at Hampton about 1891. Helen Ludlow wrote the preface to the 1891 edition (new songs added- which ones?-, arranged by a Mr. Rathbun) and seems to suggest Fenner was no longer involved. When did he die?
I haven't seen either the 1891 or 1909 editions. Moton states 25 new ones were added in the 1909, 5th edition; he was Commandant in 1909 (probably did not do any editing himself). He credits Prof. Work of Fisk, Jennie C. Lee of Tuskegee and two other schools with the additions (some songs are credited in footnotes to these people but not all). Some songs have footnotes by "Editor," but who was Editor in 1909? It is not stated. When did Dett become Director and was he the Editor? Several references credit Fenner 1909 with inserting "Go tell ...," but should Moton or Dett be credited? What author is on the cover?
The 1927 edition is prefaced by Dett, and has the spiritual on the pages I cited. Dett says that he added several "from his own collection" in the 1927 edition, but, again, which ones? The Appendix, he says, is older arrangements, so those are not his. This is the edition reprinted by AMS and, with a photocopy of the original Fenner, the only ones I have.
All of this is confusing without being able to look at the 1909 (and 1891) edition. Trivia of the most miniscule to most people, but interesting, at least to me.
If you have any more information on the 1909 edition, Masato, I would like to hear it.


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Subject: RE: Go tell it on the Mountain
From: masato sakurai
Date: 03 Nov 01 - 12:43 AM

Dicho, thanks. I have AMS's reprint of the 1920 edition, but don't have the 1891 and 1909 editions. My info is from secondary sources.


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Subject: RE: Go tell it on the Mountain
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 03 Nov 01 - 01:31 AM

I finally found out this from a book dealer.
1909- Author listed as "Hampton Institute and Fenner." This continued with reprints through 1924. In introduction: "Arranged in 1909 by the Musical Directors of the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute from the original edition by Thomas P. Fenner."
Dett was not credited with editorial authorship until his 1927 edition.
Nothing was found on the 1891 edition with preface by Ludlow.
Unless there is a note with "Go Tell It On the Mountain" in the 1909 edition, it's presence should be credited to Musical Directors of the Hampton Institute, not Fenner.
I think this helps a little, but there are other credits to Fenner or Dett that should be to the Musical Directors.


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Subject: RE: Go tell it on the Mountain
From: GUEST,cmiller
Date: 22 Nov 08 - 03:40 PM

Hello all,

Does anyone know the original source of the second version of Go Tell it on the Mountain? Did they originate before or during the Civil Rights movement? I'm agree with stonejohn--sources are difficult to come by. Thanks!


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Subject: RE: Go tell it on the Mountain
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Nov 08 - 04:50 PM

Lyr. Add: GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN
Ballanta-Taylor

1
When I was a seeker,
I sought both night an' day
I ask' de Lord to help me,
An' He show me de way.
Chorus-
Go tell it on de mountain,
Ober de hills an' eberywhere,
Go tell it on the mountain
Dat Jedus Chris' is a-born.
2
He choose me for a watchman,
And placed me on the wall,
An' if I am a christian,
I am de least ob all.
3
In de time of David,
Some call' him a king,
And if a chil' is true born,
Maussuh Jedus will hear him sing.

p. 90, Nicholas George Julius Ballanta-(Taylor), 1925, "Saint Helena Island Spirituals," Press of G. Schirmer, Inc.

Referenced in the book to "Religious Folksong of the Negro Page 174," but the version in my copy of that book (1972 AMS Reprint, ed. R. N. Dett) lacks the 3rd verse and the dialect is different.
--------------------------

The version II in the DT has three old floaters which have appeared in several songs, appearing long before the Civil Rights movement. They lack the political references of the verses in the post by Joe Offer. Don't know when it was joined with "Let My People Go" from "Go down, Moses."
Joe might know.


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Subject: DT Correction: Go tell it on the Mountain
From: Joe Offer
Date: 22 Nov 08 - 04:58 PM

Bill D copied and posted lyrics from christmas-tree.com, and those lyrics ended up in the Digital Tradition, completed with spelling errors. If you do a Google search for "shepherds deared and trembled" "hailed our Savour's birth", you'll be amazed at how far those spelling errors have spread. I think perhaps we should submit a new version, with corrections.
What I'd really like to see is a original-source-documented text of the song that includes all these verses, but maybe no such text exists. For now, here is a corrected text from the Digital Tradition. This exact text also appears in Ronald Herder's 500 Best-Loved Song Lyrics (Dover Publications, 1998). I really like Herder's book and I've found the lyrics there to be very accurate, but the book does not document its sources.


GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN
    While shepherds kept their watching
    O'er silent flocks by night,
    Behold throughout the heavens,
    There shone a holy light.
      CHORUS
      Go, tell it on the mountain,
      Over the hills and everywhere;
      Go, tell it on the mountain
      That Jesus Christ is born.

    The shepherds feared and trembled
    When lo! above the earth,
    Rang out the angel chorus
    That hailed our Saviour's birth.
    CHORUS

    Down in a lowly manger
    The (or Our) humble Christ was born;
    And God sent us salvation
    That blessed Christmas morn.
    CHORUS

    When I was a seeker,
    I sought both night and day;
    I sought the Lord to help me,
    And He showed me the way.
    CHORUS

    He made me a watchman
    Upon the city wall.
    And if I am a Christian,
    I am the least of all.
    CHORUS

This five-verse version may be found in Ronald Herder's 500 Best-Loved Song Lyrics (Dover Publications, 1998). Herder does not document his sources. Only the first three verses (shepherds, shepherds, and manger) appear in American Negro Songs, by John J. Work (Crown Publishers, 1940). Work notes: "These verses were supplied by John Work Sr. in place of the original ones which could not be found.
The "seeker" and "watchman" verses can be found in a two-verse version in this source: Hampton Institute and Fenner, 1909 and 1924, "Religious Folk-Songs of the Negro as Sung by the Hampton Students,"


@seasonal @Xmas @carol
filename[ GOTELLMT
TUNE FILE: GOTELLMT
CLICK TO PLAY
BD

Here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry on this song:

Go Tell It on the Mountain (I -- Christmas)

DESCRIPTION: "Go tell it on the mountain, Over the hills and everywhere, Go tell it on the mountain That Jesus Christ is born." The singer describes the revelation of Jesus's birth to the shepherds and notes how God "made me a watchman"
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1907 (Fisk Jubilee Singers repertoire)
KEYWORDS: religious Christmas Jesus
FOUND IN: US
REFERENCES (6 citations):
Dett, pp. 78, App.III, "Go Tell It on de Mountain" (2 texts, 2 tunes; p. 174 in the 1909 edition)
Warren-Spirit, pp. 43-44, "Go, Teill It on the Mountain" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 381, "Go Tell It On The Mountain" (1 text)
DT, GOTELLMT*
ADDITIONAL: Ian Bradley, _The Penguin Book of Carols_ (1999), #25, "Go, Tell It on the Mountain" (1 text)
Robert J. Morgan, _Then Sings My Soul, Book 2: 150 of the World's Greatest Hymn Stories_, Nelson, 2004, pp. 256-257, "Go Tell It on the Mountain" (1 text, 1 tune)

RECORDINGS:
Elizabeth Bivens, "Go Tell It On the Mountain" (on HandMeDown2)
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Go Tell It on the Mountain (II -- Freedom)"
cf. "Jesus Setta Me Free" (lyrics)
cf. "Go Mary and Toll the Bell" (lyrics, some versions)
File: FSWB381A

Go Tell It on the Mountain (II -- Freedom)

DESCRIPTION: "Go tell it on the mountain, Over the hills and everywhere, Go tell it on the mountain To let my people go." The singer describes the people, clothed in various colors, coming out of bondage
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1963 (recorded by Fannie Lou Hamer)
KEYWORDS: religious freedom nonballad travel
FOUND IN: US West Indies(Jamaica)
REFERENCES (1 citation):
DT, GOTELMT2
Roud #15220
RECORDINGS:
Fannie Lou Hamer, "Go Tell It on the Mountain" (on Voices Civ)
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Go Tell It on the Mountain (I -- Christmas)"
cf. "Jesus Setta Me Free" (lyrics)
NOTES: The "freedom" adaptation of "Go Tell It on the Mountain" came out of the civil rights movement of the early 1960s. I list "Jamaica" as a location in the "FOUND IN" field because this version was recorded by Bob Marley long before he became an internationally-known star, when reggae was still arguably an indigenous folk style. Does this qualify within the "folk tradition"? Eyes of the beholder, perhaps, but I wanted the fact noted. - PJS
Last updated in version 3.5
File: DTgotelm

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

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


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Subject: RE: Go tell it on the Mountain
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Nov 08 - 05:47 PM

Joe, that looks like an 'augmented' version constructed from more than one spiritual or otherwise composed.
The originals do not have those verses. "Go Tell It On the Mountain" was first printed in 1909, "Religious Folk Songs of the Negro," at the time credited to "Hampton Institute and Fenner" (Fenner long dead, Robert R. Moton was Commandant; Dett not in charge until the 1927 edition).
As posted by Masato in '01, there were only two verses and the refrain in that initial printing.
Fisher (Seventy Negro Spirituals, 1926) used the same two verses in his large sheet music edition.

The "African American Heritage Hymnal," 2001, GIA Publications, has these verses (no. 202) -
1
While shepherds kept their watching
O'er silent flocks by night,
Behold, throughout the heavens
There shone a holy light.
2
The shepherds feared and trembled
When lo! above the earth
Rang out the angel chorus
That hailed our Savior's birth.
3
Down in a lowly manger
The humble Christ was born,
And God sent us salvation
That blessed Christmas morn.
Chorus:
Go tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere,
Go tell it on the mountain
that Jesus Christ is born.

These verses directly copy those of John Work Sr. and printed in "American Negro Songs and Spirituals," 1940.
"Songs of Zion," 1981, ed. J. Jefferson Cleveland, uses the same three verses from Work.
(These two volumes both prepared by African-American groups).

I have not seen the version of the Utica Jubilee Singers, which may have different verses.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Go Tell It on the Mountain
From: Joe Offer
Date: 22 Nov 08 - 05:56 PM

The Traditional Ballad Index says the song was in the 1907 repertoire of the Fisk Jubilee Singers. I don't see the song in my copy of The Story of the Fisk Jubilee Singers (with their songs, by J.B.T. Marsh (Boston: Houghton, Osgood, and Company, 1880). The Marsh book has 112 songs, but not "Mountain."
I wonder where the Ballad Index got its information about the 1907 repertoire.



-Joe-


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Subject: ADD Version: Go Tell It on the Mountain
From: Joe Offer
Date: 22 Nov 08 - 06:14 PM

Here's the version from The Shorter New Oxford Book of Carols (1993), page 268 [#169 in the New Oxford Book of Carols].
You'll find the exact same version in American Folk Songs for Christmas, by Ruth Crawford Seeger (1953), except that the second line of the first verse is, "Some called him a king."

Go Tell It on the Mountain

1. In the time of David,
Some call him a king,
And if a child is true-born
Lord Jesus will hear him sing:
Go tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere;
Go tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born.

2. When I was a seeker
I sought both night and day;
I ask the Lord to help me,
And he show me the way.
Go tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere;
Go tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born.

3. He made me a watchman
Upon a city wall,
And if I am a Christian
I am the least of all.
Go tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere,
Go tell it on the mountain,
That Jesus Christ is born.


notes: Text and tune are from Thomas P. Fenner: Religious Songs of the Negro as Sung on the Plantations (Hampton 1909)


If appears above that there may be some question about the attribution of this version to Fenner. It appears that the "seeker" and "watchman" verses come from the 1909 book; and the "shepherd," "shepherd," and "manger" verses come from the 1940 Work book.


-Joe-


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Subject: ADD Version: Go Tell It on the Mountain
From: Joe Offer
Date: 22 Nov 08 - 06:58 PM

OK, next question: does the "dressed in white" version originate with the civil rights movement, or was it earlier? The "dressed in white" verses appear Wade in the Water (thanks to Azizi) and maybe in other spirituals, but I can't think of any just now.

Below is the Peter, Paul & Mary version. Their album claims songwriter credit, but were they the first to have the "dressed in white" verses?

TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN
Stookey/Yarrow/Okun/Travers- Pepamar Music- ASCAP

Chorus:
Go tell it on the mountain, over the hill and everywhere
Go tell it on the mountain, to let My people go.

Who's that yonder dressed in red, let My people go
Must be the children that Moses led, let My people go
Who's that yonder dressed in red,
Must be the children that Moses led
Go tell it on the mountain, to let My people go.

 (Chorus)

Who's that yonder dressed in white, let My people go
Must be the children of the Israelite, let My people go
Who's that yonder dressed in white,
Must be the children of the Israelite
Go tell it on the mountain, to let My people go

 (Chorus)

Who's that yonder dressed in black, let My people go
Must be the hypocrites turnin' back, let My people go
Who's that yonder dressed in black, 
Must be the hypocrites turnin' back

 (Chorus)

from the Peter, Paul & Mary album In the Wind, 1963


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Subject: ADD Version: Go Tell It on the Mountain
From: Joe Offer
Date: 22 Nov 08 - 07:12 PM

OK, so here's another Fannie Lou Hamer version. Did she take it from PP&M, or vice-versa?

GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN
Led by Fannie Lou Hamer, recorded in Greenwood, Mississippi
(Fall, 1963)

Chorus:
Go tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills, and everywhere.
Go tell it on the mountain
To let my people go.

Paul and Silas bound in jail.
Let my people go.
Had nobody for to go their bail.
Let my people go.
(Chorus)

Paul and Silas began to shout,
Let my people go.
Jail door opened, and they walked out.
Let my people go.
(Chorus)

Who's that yonder dressed in red?
Let my people go.
Must be the children that Moses led.
Let my people go.
(Chorus)

Who's that yonder dressed in black?
Let my people go.
Must be the hypocrites turning back.
Let my people go.
(Chorus)

I had a little book, he gave to me,
Let my people go.
And every page spelled victory.
Let my people go.
(Chorus - twice)


The Hamer recording may be found on the Smithsonian/Folkways CD, Voices of the Civil Rights Movement Black American Freedom Songs 1960-1966


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Subject: RE: Origins: Go Tell It on the Mountain
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Nov 08 - 07:53 PM

The printings of Hampton songs after Fenner's death have songs that Fenner never collected.
The 1909 printing was by "Hampton Institute and Fenner," keeping Fenner's name although he was dead. The title of the book given in Trad. Ballad Index also is wrong:
1891 title- "Cabin and Plantation Songs as Sung by the Hampden Students."
1909 title- "Religious Folk-Songs of the Negro as Sung by the Hampden Students."
1927 title- "Religious Folk-Songs of the Negro as Sung at Hampton Institute." (shortened for the title page, leaving out "as sung ...."
(Moreover, some Tuskegee songs are added, and, I believe, a couple contributed by Work).
----------------------------------
W. J. Gibbs, Bromley, Kent, first half of 20th c., published several printings of "Negro Spirituals or The Songs of the Jubilee Singers."
He ran a 'Christian Holiday site' called Ambleside. To Seward's original, he added some spirituals used in later Fisk concerts, but attribution is a little cloudy. This offers problems with citations of Fisk (Jubilee) material. That 1907 date in TBI may reflect one of his publications, but I am dubious about the citation.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Go Tell It on the Mountain
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Nov 08 - 08:18 PM

Dressed in white- another floater, in several old spirituals, but best-known from:

Wade in the Water- or-"God's a-Gwineter Trouble De Water"

See dat host all dressed in white
God's a-gwineter trouble de water
The leader looks like de Israelite
God's a-gwineter trouble de water.

James W. and J. R. Johnson, "The Books of American Negro Spirituals," 1925-1926 and reprints.
(negrospirituals.com has the verse without dialect)
Also in Work.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Go Tell It on the Mountain
From: Azizi
Date: 22 Nov 08 - 08:59 PM

For what it's worth, both religious and secular African American "folk songs" have lyrics that follow a pattern of referring to one or more person "dressed in" a certain color.

For example, in some songs, women wearing the color "red" seems to be associated with mourning someone's death {Or perhaps it was a reaffirmation of life since red is the color of blood}.

"John Henry's lil mother,
She was all dressed in red,
She jumped in bed, covered up her head,
Said she didn' know her son was dead,
Lawd, Lawd, didn' know her son was dead"

@displaysong.cfm?SongID=3243

**

In other 19th century dance songs, the lyrics referring to a woman being dressed in "red calico" may just be a reflection of the value that was placed on placed on a color other than the drab dark colors that were the norm for African American women who couldn't afford anything else.

"Gwineter take my gal to de country sto;
Gwineter dress her up in red calico".

Thomas W. Talley Negro Folk Rhymes
"I Would Rather Be A Negro Than A Poor Black Man"; Kennikat edition: p.42

**
A line in a song/poem entitled "When My Wife Dies" that found in that same 1922 book Negro Folk Rhymes suggests that there was a superstition against wearing the color "black" when a person dies"that appears to be associated with a belief in reincarnation:

"W'en I goes to die, Nobody mus'n' cry,
Mus'n dress in black, fer I mought come back.
But w'en I'se been dead, an' almost forgotten;
You mought think about me an' keep on a-trotten."

{Kennikat Press edition; p.6}

**

Here are two verses from a version of the New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian song "Iko Iko" that refer to people wearing certain colors:

Look at my king all dressed in red.
Iko, Iko, unday.
I betcha five dollars he'll kill you dead.
Jockamo fee nané...

See that guy all dressed in green?
Iko, Iko, unday. He's not a man;
He's a lovin' machine.
Jockamo fee nané.

thread.cfm?threadid=23200

These verses mimic the color verses in "Wade In The Water", However, I don't believe that the specific colors have any other significance but to complete the set up the rhyme.

**
This verse from the old African American song "Railroad Bill" also follows the familiar pattern started by the "Wade In The Water" color verses of referring to someone "dressed in" a certain color. But in that verse the reference to color is just descriptive of the color uniforms that were worn:

"Well, the policemen all dressed in blue,
Comin down sidewalk two by two,
Wus lookin' fer Railroad Bill."

thread.cfm?threadid=45143

**

Also, see this thread thread.cfm?threadid=91064 Songs About Wearing Red for more... um...songs from various cultures about wearing red.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Go Tell It on the Mountain
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Nov 08 - 09:17 PM

Joe, I think I found the source of the Roud- and Trad. Ballad Index reference to "1907" repertoire of the Fisk Jubilee singers-

John W. Work II and Frederick J. Work, "New Jubilee Songs as Sung by the Fisk Jubilee Singers," 1901. Wade in the Water was first published in that book, which is rare.
"Go Tell It on the Mountain" may also be in that volume. 1907 may be an error for 1901; I doubt that there was another edition in 1907.


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Subject: RE: DT Attribution & Minor Corrections PermaThread
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Nov 08 - 11:51 PM

Joe, the message you substituted has errors in attribution.
The two verses of "Go Tell It on the Mountain" are not in "original edition by Thomas P. Fenner" but in: Hampton Institute and Fenner, 1909 and 1924, "Religious Folk-Songs of the Negro as Sung by the Hampton Students," p. not known (book not seen). Fenner was long dead.
The song again appeared in the revision, R. Nathaniel Dett, 1927, "Religious Folk-Songs of the Negro as Sung at Hampton Institute" (AMS reprint 1972-1973 of the 1927 Dett edition. "Go Tell it on the Mountain" is on p. 78, not p. 174 ("Bright Sparkles in de Churchyard") and again in the Appendix; III, of the 1927 edition.
    See above - Correction made as suggested, although I had to abbreviate it somewhat.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Go Tell It on the Mountain
From: GUEST,cmiller
Date: 30 Nov 08 - 04:52 PM

Thanks very much for all of the input! I am currently writing a master's thesis (for my musicology MM) on Peter, Paul, & Mary's career during the 1960s, and the reason for my question had been exactly that which Joe Offer brought up--were they the first to use the Version 2 lyrics of Go Tell it On the Mountain? My experience with 1960s copyright thus far has shown that it did not take much musical or textual alteration to be able to credit authorship to oneself. Perhaps the change in title ("Tell it on the Mountain") or the particular vocal harmonies were enough to obtain the authorship copyright.

The posted suggestions have been very helpful! I will check into Fannie Lou Hamer, and I'm glad to know about Wade in the Water. I will be sure to post if (hopefully when) I find out whether Hammer or PP&M used the lyrics first!

-cmiller


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Subject: RE: Origins: Go Tell It on the Mountain
From: Ref
Date: 30 Nov 08 - 08:53 PM

A little OT, and I know people are quoting other sources, but I hope nobody here would be so disrespectful as to perform any of these songs in the "De, Dem, Gwineter" form. These things were probably written down when minstrel shows still were popular.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Go Tell It on the Mountain
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 30 Nov 08 - 08:55 PM

The Paul and Silas verses used by Hamer are known in several forms in older spirituals. Here is part of a spiritual sung by Rebecca Taylor for Carl Sandburg and included in his 1927 "American Songbag:

ALL NIGHT LONG
1
Paul and Silas, bound in jail,
All night long.
One for to sing an' de other foh to pray,
All night long.
One for to sing an' de othah foh to pray,
All night long.
Do, Lawd, delibah po' me!
(two more verses; pp. 448-449, with musical score.)

The Stanley Bros. sang "Paul and Silas;" the first verse:
Paul and Silas bound in jail all night long, (3x)
Saying who shall deliver for me.

Hamer combined the Paul and Silas lines with lines from "Go down, Moses;" 'Let my people go,' etc. is from old spirituals.

I think search will show Hamer's lines and verses mostly are floaters used in several spirituals. The 'combination' might be new, but little else.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Go Tell It on the Mountain
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 04 Jul 10 - 06:10 PM

John Wesley Work (c. 1872-1925) composed "Go Tell It on the Mountain," 1907, as a solo piece, according to "Hymns and Carols for Christmas," quoting from the website of Prof. Gracia Grindal, Luther Seminary: http://hymnuts.luthersem.edu/hcompany/texts/hymn070.htm.

It may also have been printed in Folksongs of the American Negro, published in soft cover in 1907, hard cover 1915.
Supposedly it is based on "the old Negro spiritual When I Was a Seeker" but this spiritual has not been collected.


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