Archive for the ‘Jubilee Time’ Category

Christmas Jubilee Time: Beautiful Star of Bethlehem


here, a very sedate white Baptist choir sings a sweet, sentimental tune:

Embedly Powered

This version got a lot of snark from recovering church-burnt folks at Stuff Fundies Like.

An unidentified guitarist brings it down home, determined to combine music with witness:

Beautiful Star of BethlehemAn unknown singer performs the gospel standard “Beautiful Star Of Bethlehem” while playing slide guitar. Old-time singing with NO synthesizers! Pure conviction and feeling, Praise the Lord.

Embedly Powered

(Come on, now — steel guitar on Christmas Day! What’s not to like?)

And a banjo teacher adds her own grace:

Embedly Powered

And the beautiful Star of Bethlehem even appears in this early piece by Terry Gilliam.

Embedly Powered

Sunday Jubilee Time: Which one did Harriet Tubman sing?


Embedly Powered

You can find a little history on the Pace Jubilee Singers here.

“Steal Away to Jesus,” sung by a talented choir of young women

Embedly Powered


And the Mighty Clouds of Joy: Same title, different lyrics:

Embedly Powered

(notice how deftly the lead singer steps over the mic cord at 1:40 and 2:00)

For this last version, I could only find the lyrics. The title, “Steal Away and Pray,” is the same as the Pace Jubilee Singers number above, but the lyrics are different.

The simplicity of these words tells me that this is an old folk tune which could function as a work song, strengthening and comforting the oppressed without attracting an unfriendly ear. I vote for this one — but I still don’t know how it sounded.



Sunday Jubilee Time: Do Not Pass Me By!


This Sunday  we have three wonderful versions of “Savior, Pass Me Not.”

These lyrics were written by Fanny Crosby.

I just want to point out two lines that really jump off the page:

Pass me not, O gentle Savior,
Hear my humble cry;
While on others Thou art calling,
Do not pass me by.

This is such a powerful lever for uprooting all the isolation and guilt-tripping that gets twined up in so many people’s religious experience. Have you ever looked around and seen everybody else saved but you? Everyone else closer to God, more fluent in prayer, more connected, more disciplined than you?  Do not pass me by!


I selected this video for the sheer energy — I really like how the choir director keeps everybody on point. This from a church in Montreal, Canada. Yes, there have been black folks in Canada for the longest time; it was one of the major termini on the Underground Railroad.

Embedly Powered

I have nothing to say about this clip, except that you can’t improve on perfection.

Embedly Powered

…or can you? Here’s a beautiful, dignified instrumental version for those of us who are shy in the spirit.

Embedly Powered

Sunday Jubilee Time: Two by Thomas Dorsey


Embedly Powered

My favorite version of this odd little song.  Honestly, this is just a weird thing to do:

I was standing by the bedside of a neighbor

Who was just about to cross a swellin’ tide

And I asked him if he would do me a favor

Kindly take this message to the other side.

I’d be too bashful.  Full lyrics here.

And little background here. Now that I know it arises from the life of Thomas Dorsey, it makes perfect sense. This is the man who wrote “Precious Lord” after his wife died suddenly while he was away blessing folks with his music.  (Sung here by James Baldwin.)

Embedly Powered

Sunday Jubilee Time: ‘Tis the Old Ship of Zion


Yes, I know it’s late. I was busy on BlogTalkRadio yesterday, and then busy combing the knots out of my aura brain.

So I clean forgot about Sunday Jubilee Time.  I’ll make it up to you now.

My mind was on this song,

Embedly Powered

but first, and via serendipitous links I can’t remember now, I discovered this and just about fainted with delight:

Poor Pilgrim Of Sorrow- The Dixie HummingbirdsPoor Pilgrim Of Sorrow by The Dixie Hummingbirds. Ira Tucker, Sr.

Embedly Powered

Then I remembered this wonderful song, which I first heard — just one verse! — from a lady who got up to testify during a Spiritual Church service some years ago. She turned out to be pastor of another Spiritual Church, and one of the guest speakers that day.

Embedly Powered

Sunday Jubilee Time: Shadrack x 4


“Shadrack” is a nifty little swing/gospel tune by Robert MacGimsey, a white man who grew up so steeped in African-American music that … well, you’ll see in a minute.

I was after the Golden Gate Quartet’s version of this song, and finally found it — recorded very late in their career. Ry Cooder is playing rhythm guitar offscreen:

They first recorded this song when it was new, in the 1930’s.

Before I discovered that, I found this delightful version by the Larks:

And a couple of weird ones: The Deep River Boys perform it as a set piece.

I haven’t been able to track down the film it’s from, but it looks like the period in the 1930’s and 40’s when faux-exotic spectaculars were all the rage, with more attention to fabulousness than to any kind of authenticity,  and popular entertainers of all kinds were shoehorned in, often to excellent effect.

Now, there’s nothing in the lyrics about the Three Hebrew Children fighting back, but somehow I don’t have a problem with it…

And here’s the Big Band Hollywood treatment by the Larry Clinton Orchestra, featuring the smooooooth baritone of Ford Leary:

Sunday Jubilee Time: Idumea


Well, not jubilant exactly, and I’m not quite sure I believe the first line. But the tune raises the hairs on the back of my neck 🙂

If you watch it on YouTube, you can get at the lyrics.

Just before I found this next link, I was listening to other Sacred Harp songs and realizing that the timbre of the voices is very similar to that of powwow singers. Et voila!

This is my very favorite sad song. There is a little flash of hope in the last two lines. The lyrics are in the “See More” link below the YouTube clip.

(Yes, it’s a day late.  Sunday was hectic. :))

Sunday Jubilee Time: A Miracle Worker


After many years — decades! — of drudgery and scarcity which are not over yet, we enter into a time of miracles and wonders.  (Yes, as an unashamed lefty, I do count Occupy Wall Street as a miracle and a wonder.)

Sunday Jubilee Time


This tune has been running in my head all week, and I don’t even know the lyrics.

(Lyrics are here.)

… And here’s the slightly syncopated instrumental version, suitable for those who are shy around the spirit.