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Origin: Jordan's River is Chilly and Cold

DigiTrad:
CONESTOGA ON THE JORDAN ROAD
CROSSED OLD JORDAN'S STREAM
DEEP RIVER
JORDAN IS A HARD ROAD TO TRAVEL
RIVER OF JORDAN
ROLL, JORDAN, ROLL


Related threads:
ADD/Info: Cross Over to the Other Side of Jordan (15)
Origin: Jordan (6)
Lyr Req: Jordan River (14)
Lyr Req: Far-Side Banks of Jordan (Terry Smith) (22)
Lyr Add: Roll, Jordan, Roll (20)
On Jordan's Stormy Banks (16)
Jordan River Songs and Spirituals (4)
Lyr Req: Ashore to Jordan? / Shores of Jordan (3)
Lyr Req: Jordanis oras praevia (7)
Lyr Req: River of Jordan (Jaybird Coleman version) (6)
happy? - Sept 15 (Crossing Jordan) (4)
Lyr Req: There Are Two Sides to the Jordan (10)
Lyr Add: I'm Gonna Walk Around In Jerdan (5)
Lyr Add: Oh, Give Way Jordan (spiritual, work (3)
Lyr Add: It's Cool Down Here at the River Jordan (3)
Lyr Req: Far Side Banks of Jordan (8)
Lyr Add: Get Away Jordan (9)
Lyr Req: I'll Be Half Way To Jordan (5)
Lyr Req: What is the Crying at Jordan (5)
Lyr/Tune Req: What Is the Crying at Jordan? (2)


thespionage 08 Jul 05 - 11:13 PM
wysiwyg 08 Jul 05 - 11:21 PM
thespionage 08 Jul 05 - 11:28 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 08 Jul 05 - 11:30 PM
Azizi 08 Jul 05 - 11:52 PM
Azizi 08 Jul 05 - 11:55 PM
thespionage 09 Jul 05 - 12:25 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 09 Jul 05 - 12:41 AM
Azizi 09 Jul 05 - 01:03 AM
Neighmond 09 Jul 05 - 03:31 AM
Azizi 09 Jul 05 - 06:02 AM
wysiwyg 09 Jul 05 - 09:49 AM
frogprince 09 Jul 05 - 01:21 PM
frogprince 09 Jul 05 - 01:30 PM
thespionage 09 Jul 05 - 01:35 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 09 Jul 05 - 02:12 PM
wysiwyg 09 Jul 05 - 02:57 PM
GUEST,mez_G 21 Oct 09 - 06:06 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 21 Oct 09 - 08:36 PM
Art Thieme 21 Oct 09 - 09:48 PM
Janie 21 Oct 09 - 11:10 PM
MissouriMud 21 Oct 09 - 11:36 PM
Art Thieme 22 Oct 09 - 06:40 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 22 Oct 09 - 08:17 PM
GUEST,Scott 24 Feb 10 - 01:59 PM
Joe Offer 24 Feb 10 - 04:32 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 24 Feb 10 - 08:10 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 24 Feb 10 - 08:36 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 25 Feb 10 - 03:46 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 25 Feb 10 - 04:47 PM
Joe Offer 25 Feb 10 - 05:44 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 25 Feb 10 - 06:08 PM
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Subject: Common Lyric: Jordan's River is Chilly
From: thespionage
Date: 08 Jul 05 - 11:13 PM

"Jordan's River is chilly and cold / Chills the body, but not the soul"

I have heard this verse, and slight variations, in numerous folk songs. Where did this come from? Thanks.

Russ


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Subject: RE: Common Lyric: Jordan's River is Chilly
From: wysiwyg
Date: 08 Jul 05 - 11:21 PM

Russ, it's a couplet appearing in what used to be called (and often are still called) Negro (or some say African American) Spirituals. This type of song often has "floating" verses that float from one song to another as if in the air; also called "zipper verses" because they can be zipped in. Lots more information in the African American Spirituals Permathread and in threads it links off to around Mudcat.

BTW "Jordan" in that sense would have been pronounced "Jerdon."

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Common Lyric: Jordan's River is Chilly
From: thespionage
Date: 08 Jul 05 - 11:28 PM

Great. I love the fact that Lee Hays with the Weavers created a zipper verse of "Greensleeves": it is hilarious to hear "Rock Island Line" with "Alas my love you do me wrong / To treat me so discourteously." Thanks.

Russ


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Subject: RE: Common Lyric: Jordan's River is Chilly
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 08 Jul 05 - 11:30 PM

For a little information and several spirituals with the phrase or parts of it, see thread 50443: Jordan River


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Subject: RE: Common Lyric: Jordan's River is Chilly
From: Azizi
Date: 08 Jul 05 - 11:52 PM

thespionage:

According to Philip Schaff's "The Pocket Bible Dictionary" {Lebanon, Tenn; Union Theological Seminary; Jubilee Publisher, 1996; pp125-126}
The Jordan River was 'passed over' [meaning 'crossed'] by the Israelites when entering the Promised Land. {Josh.3:14, Ps.114:3}. It is mentioned many times in the Old Testament and miracles are associated with it {such as healing of Naaman {2 Kings 5:14}. In the New Testament the Jordan River was where Jesus was baptised and where John the Baptist baptised 'the multitudes' {Mark 1-9; and Matt. 3:6}

Spirituals composed by enslaved African Americans often likened their plight to that of the Israelites who were saved by God's intervention {for example: "Go Down Moses" and "Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel"}

IMO, this River Jordan verse may have been used as a reminder that in His time, God was gonna trouble the water, and cause Black people to be free as He freed the Israelites.

I should also say that there are alot of crossing the river references in African American secular slave songs {such as "I went to the river but I couldn't get across/I paid five dollars for an old gray horse/the horse wouldn't pull/so I traded for a bull etc.}

Some people consider these to be coded references to the Ohio River which when crossed would have led to a freedom [though it was an insecure freedom after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act].

And it should also be mentioned that water and water immersion and water deities are very much traditional African concepts. Also, the river and the river bank has been considered to be symbolical [in Afircan and other African Diaspora cultures] of the line separating earth from heaven...

****

The variation of "Jordan's River is chilly and cold / Chills the body, but not the soul" that I know best is

'chills the body but it warms the soul"

I think that this version better reflects the spirit of that verse.


Azizi


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Subject: RE: Common Lyric: Jordan's River is Chilly
From: Azizi
Date: 08 Jul 05 - 11:55 PM

Susan,

You wrote that "Jordan" in that sense would have been pronounced "Jerdon."

Says who?

And since when?

If this pronunciation WAS true for SOME enslaved African Americans quite some time ago [and maybe it was], I know for sure that we never pronounced 'Jordan' 'Jerdon' in the African American Baptist chruch that I attended when I was a child and a teenager. Nor have I EVER heard it pronounced that way in any Black churches or Black community that I have been in.

Then and now where I come from and live, Jordan was {and is} pronounced 'JOR-done' {as in "Michael Jordan"}..

Just thought you might want another opinion...


Azizi


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Subject: RE: Common Lyric: Jordan's River is Chilly
From: thespionage
Date: 09 Jul 05 - 12:25 AM

Thanks Azizi! (I agree about the pronunciation, by the way.)

Russ


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Subject: RE: Common Lyric: Jordan's River is Chilly
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 09 Jul 05 - 12:41 AM

Azizi, I never heard it any other way than 'Jerdon' (Jurdon) in Georgia, Alabama and Texas. Until well after WW2 and the movement of northerners into the southern cities, both whites and blacks used that pronunciation. The family name Jordan also was pronounced 'Jerdan' or 'Jurdon." My wife has some relatives with that name. They said that they were Jerdons, that Jordans were Yankees.

"Roll, Jordan, Roll" was collected in Auburn, Alabama in 1915 as "Roll, Jurding, Roll," another southern variant, from a Negro revival meeting (White, N. I., "American Negro Folk-Songs," p. 87-88), Folklore Assoc. Inc.

Verse 1:
Roll, Jurding, Roll, roll, Jurding roll;
You oughter been settin' in the Kingdom
To hear sweet Jurding roll.

William Arms Fisher, in his notes to the spiritual, "I'm Just A-Goin' Over Jordan," says that "Jordan is usually pronounced Jerdon." 1926, "Seventy Negro Spirituals" (for low voice), pp. 88-89, Oliver Ditson Co.   

I have never heard the last syllable as 'done.' (Day is done; rhymes with Sun).


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Subject: RE: Common Lyric: Jordan's River is Chilly
From: Azizi
Date: 09 Jul 05 - 01:03 AM

Well, I'm from the North/ I have no Southern relatives, and I ahve only been 'down South' one time {to Atlanta, Georgia and does Atlanta still count as the South? Well maybe, but it has sooo many folks who have moved there from the North and Midwest..

Anyway, that might explain the differences in pronounciation.

But not only have I heard the pronunciation 'Jordone', but I have also heard 'Jorden' {where the end syllable rhymes with 'ten'}.

As that late 20th century saying goes: "Different strokes for different folks".

Or as the Hip-Hoppers say "It's all good".


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Subject: RE: Common Lyric: Jordan's River is Chilly
From: Neighmond
Date: 09 Jul 05 - 03:31 AM

A Darius Jordan lived next to us when I was a kid, and it was an endless pesterment in school because the teachers said "DAIRY iss, JOR dan" and the family said "dur EYE us, JER dun."

Now he goes by "D. J."

Chaz


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Subject: RE: Common Lyric: Jordan's River is Chilly
From: Azizi
Date: 09 Jul 05 - 06:02 AM

Hey, Chaz!

How you been?!

****

Here's a link to an ongoing Mudcat thread that relates to these comments on how the word 'Jordan' is pronounced:

Folklore: Y'all speak jest like us....


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Subject: RE: Common Lyric: Jordan's River is Chilly
From: wysiwyg
Date: 09 Jul 05 - 09:49 AM

Azizi,

As I said, it "WOULD have been pronounced"-- past tense, back in slave times, and carried forward in black gospel recordings by classic gospel quartets. By every person and for all time? No, but in the several thousand gospel recordings I've listened through, yes. In the studies written about spirituals, yes. I don't make this stuff up!

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Common Lyric: Jordan's River is Chilly
From: frogprince
Date: 09 Jul 05 - 01:21 PM

I'm northern, and hadn't come across the "Jerdon" pronunciation until I got an Uncle Dave (Macon, that is) recording a few years ago.


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Subject: RE: Common Lyric: Jordan's River is Chilly
From: frogprince
Date: 09 Jul 05 - 01:30 PM

By the way, there is a variation on this, that you haven't heard, here:
       www.geocities.com/jadelapeer/michaelpage.html

someo'thesesdays I'm gonna get the hang of doing clickies here...
      Dean


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Subject: RE: Common Lyric: Jordan's River is Chilly
From: thespionage
Date: 09 Jul 05 - 01:35 PM

That's an interesting variation. The site provides "The Water Is Wide" as the melody, yet I have never heard "Michael" with that tune.

Russ


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Subject: RE: Common Lyric: Jordan's River is Chilly
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 09 Jul 05 - 02:12 PM

Neighmond, maybe this is why so many southerners used to go by their initials. A friend claimed that only the initials of his first names were on his birth certificate (N. R), his parents leaving it to him to choose. He suffered anyway, we called him Nicodemus.
Darius reminds me of our treatment of Sophia in an English Lit. class; We called her Sophie or Sopheeya; the instructor, from England, insisted that the name was So-phi(as in aye)-a.

In Georgia and much of the south, Jerdon (Jerden) persisted as the most common pronunciation up to about WW2, much longer than you note, WYSIWYG.
Historically, a comparison has been made with Jourdain, the name of a prominent and widespread southern family in the 19th c., but I know of no basis for this (there are comments in a previous Mudcat thread- so many of these discussions seem to recur at about six month periods).

Frogprince, that familiar melody sounds Irish or Scottish- I am sure I have heard it before, but can't rope it in. Thanks for the site.


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Subject: RE: Common Lyric: Jordan's River is Chilly
From: wysiwyg
Date: 09 Jul 05 - 02:57 PM

In addition to the north/south aspect of pronunciation, there's a socio-economic class angle as well-- perhaps a stronger one than the regional angle.

A lot of pronunciation/dialect was "sanitized" (I prefer to think of it as censorship) as the slave-times culture of African Americans moved north and as individuals began to prosper. For a variety of reasons documented by African American writers then and since, the AA people working hard to gain respect in middle-class America were reluctant to be associated with the times and culture of the slaves, for a long, long time. It had not been long since free blacks could be and often were picked up by slave hunters under the Fugitive Slave Act, and subject to re-enslavement and death.

Also (in common with many cultures), as material moved into hymnals, a lot of these sorts of changes became somewhat set in stone and are now assumed to be "right." In fact, no hymns that began in a folk tradition can ever really be documents as "right," tho they may be "copyrighted."

The floating and zipper verses-- and indeed the spirituals themselves as a genre-- most especially defied "right" versioning, as they tended to originate in the creativity and deep feeling of the moment. Songs sprang up in a days' work or a night's lament, and a few-- very few comparatively-- were transcribed. Many more were passed around orally, and folk-processed into "songs" as we would recognize them today. But the folk-processing still continues.

It's just a very, very fluid genre. That's part of the attraction!
More info in the poermathread....

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Origin: Jordan's River is Chilly and Cold
From: GUEST,mez_G
Date: 21 Oct 09 - 06:06 PM

the river Jordan.. warms the soul" was often a verse to "all my trials" sung by Harry Belafonte in 1958.. Joan Baez didn't use the verse in 1962 on her version


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Subject: RE: Origin: Jordan's River is Chilly and Cold
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 21 Oct 09 - 08:36 PM

Joan Baez sang the verse as:
The river Jordan is muddy and cold,
It chills the body but not the soul.

"All My Trials" was apparently collected as a lullaby, one or two verse, in the Bahamas. It does not appear in any of the 19th century collections.
The song was added to or revised by various groups during the folk revival of the 1950s and later. Some regard it as a spiritual song.

I would appreciate valid information (as opposed to hearsay) on the origin of the song and its first introduction to the folk song circuit. Cynthia Gooding and Bob Gibson (1956) may have been the first to introduce it. Glenn Yarborough sang it in 1957 and Belafonte sang it in 1959.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Jordan's River is Chilly and Cold
From: Art Thieme
Date: 21 Oct 09 - 09:48 PM

The verse is in a song I included on the 1998 CD called "The Older I Get, The Better I Was" The song's title "Is Your Lamps Gone Out" and comes from Mary Wheeler's 1940 book STEAMBOATIN' DAYS (Univ. of Louisiana Press.) These are all songs that Ms Wheeler collected traveling up and down the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.

Art


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Subject: RE: Origin: Jordan's River is Chilly and Cold
From: Janie
Date: 21 Oct 09 - 11:10 PM

I have to confess that when I hear most singers pronounce Jordan as Jerdan or Jerdin, et. al. it grates on me as an affectation. There are southern string bands where it sounds just right, but when, for instance, I am at the gospel sing at the Getaway and hear many (quite lovely, btw) people adopt that pronunciation to whom it does not come natural, it irritates me.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Jordan's River is Chilly and Cold
From: MissouriMud
Date: 21 Oct 09 - 11:36 PM

In Ware and Allen's 1863 collection of Slave Songs of the United States the version of Michael Row the Boat that Ware collected from the Sea Islands had the line "Jordan stream is wide and deep" as a repeated line, but not the chilly and cold/body and soul couplet.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Jordan's River is Chilly and Cold
From: Art Thieme
Date: 22 Oct 09 - 06:40 PM

Hamilton Jordan---always pronounced Jerdon -- was in Jimmy Carter's cabinet.

Art


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Subject: RE: Origin: Jordan's River is Chilly and Cold
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Oct 09 - 08:17 PM

Upsetting how northerners insist on telling southerners how to pronounce their names.

Never go to Vienna, Georgia, and tell them it's Vee-enna. It's Beuw-fort, not Bow-fort, S. C. And Monticello, not Montichello.

Mind!


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Subject: RE: Origin: Jordan's River is Chilly and Cold
From: GUEST,Scott
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 01:59 PM

In the United Methodist hymnal, there is a footnote for "On Jordan's Stormy Banks I Stand" that actually states the pronounciation of Jordan is "Jer-dan."

My aunt is married into a old-line family of Jordan's and they bristle when people try to prounce the name as "Jor-dan" instead of "Jer-dan."


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Subject: RE: Origin: Jordan's River is Chilly and Cold
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 04:32 PM

Q, it may be Beuw-fort, South Carolina; but I'm quite certain it's Bow-fort in North Carolina [see this article]. Both states have seaside cities named Beaufort, and both are very interesting towns. And they have lighthouses nearby, so I've been to both places.

"Jerdun" is the standard pronunciation of "Jordan" in the American South, but I wonder how it's named and pronounced in the various languages of the Holy Land. Anybody know?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origin: Jordan's River is Chilly and Cold
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 08:10 PM

Joe, you are correct for the two Beauforts. A sister-in-law from Georgia taught in North Carolina; she said southern pronunciations were the subject of a thesis at UNC, but I don't remember any details.

Country of Jordan- al-'Urdunn in transliterated Arabic. The River is nahr al-urdun.
In Israel- called nehar hayarden.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Jordan's River is Chilly and Cold
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 08:36 PM

Please don't ask for pronunciations of Arabic.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Jordan's River is Chilly and Cold
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 03:46 PM

Sorry; couldn't resist: Many years back, sick and tired of doing "Michael, Row the Boat Ashore," we subbed the following verse -
"River Jordan (pronounce it as you will) is deep and wide, Halleluja;
Clean rest rooms on the other side, Halleluja." Apparently, the audience agreed; the laughter was rollicking.

We apologized, tongue-in-cheek, for profaning the sacred.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Jordan's River is Chilly and Cold
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 04:47 PM

The old spiritual "Chilly Water" contains the "chilly and cold" line, but the River Jordan is not mentioned by name (Jubilee Singers).
Chilly Water


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Subject: RE: Origin: Jordan's River is Chilly and Cold
From: Joe Offer
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 05:44 PM

Interestingly, the Jordan River is neither chilly nor cold. Murky and a bit slimy might be a good description, but certainly not cold.

I stood in the River Jordan for about half an hour during a baptism service about ten years ago. As I went in, somebody said, "Watch out for the piranhas!" Well, there was something nibbling at the back of my legs the whole half hour, but I doubt that it was piranhas.
    Michael's boat is a-sinkin' fast, hallelujah!
    See how fast he climbs that mast, hallelujah!


-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origin: Jordan's River is Chilly and Cold
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 06:08 PM

Just crocodiles, Joe!

(Well, no. Many little fish nibble on your legs if you stand still. Some years ago, on a field course, we dug in the sand of a shallow river to make ourselves 'bathtubs' and little minnows swam into them and started nibbling. Better'n soap to clean off the grime).


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