This is truly an all American Christmas Carol.  It comes from the black slaves who worked on plantations.  No one knows who wrote the original words or the music. In the later part of the nineteenth century, a group at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee worked to save the old spirituals. A man at Fisk, named John W. Work Jr., also had a passion for preserving these old hymns. He wrote down the words that survived and then added a couple of verses. The song was then published in 1907.The Jubilee Singers from Fisk took the songs all over the world. Go Tell It On the Mountain has been performed by them since 1879.

I have several different recordings of this song but I especially love the ones that seem to be sung deep down from the singer’s soul. It helps me imagine the black slaves singing this with hope for the savior who would come and free them from their bondage.

 

            Chorus sung after each verse:

Go tell it on the mountain, Over the hills and everywhere;

Go tell it on the mountain, That Jesus Christ is born!

 

While shepherds kept their watching O’er silent flocks by night,

Behold throught-out the heavens There shone a holy light. 

 

The shepherds feared and trembled When lo! Above the earth

Rang out the angel chorus That hailed our Savior’s birth.

 

Down in a lowly manger The humble Christ was born,

And brought as God’s salvation That blessed Christmas morn.

 

*My reference for this piece is Then Sings My Soul Book 2 by Robert J. Morgan. I’ll be reviewing this book in the coming weeks.

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