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The spirited Christmas track “Go Tell the On The Mountain,” favor the best African-American spirituals and also southern gospel hymns, is a work of innovative simplicity, v crisp action verbs, solid nouns, vibrant phrases, a tight narrative structure and a fun, singable melody. Prior to we study it here on My song In The Night, a short history and audio recording for you:

Some scholars think Frederick Jerome job-related (1880-1942 composed “Go Tell that On The Mountain.” occupational was an African-American composer and also scholar who gathered and i ordered it spirituals, including this one in 1907. Various other scholars think slaves had actually been singing this American individual carol because at least the 1860’s, therefore Work might not have actually composed it.

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Whether occupational wrote “Go Tell that On The Mountain” or found and preserved it, the Christmas tune didn’t attain its current popularity until the mid-20th century. Through then, jazz, blues and early rock’n roll had taken the U.S. By storm. The energetic, driving rhythm and lyrics of “Go Tell that On The Mountain” made it a favourite of young Americans.

Our church Sojourn attracted inspiration indigenous the Blues and also African-American spirituals in this brand-new recording the “Go Tell the On The Mountain,” featuring our friend and Sojourn new Albany prayer director Justin Shaffer:

Most kinds of Go Tell that On The Mountain start with the basic refrain i m sorry draws from:

“How beautiful ~ above the mountains are the feet that those who bring an excellent news, that proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say come Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” (Isaiah 52:7)


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"Go Tell the On The Mountain" vocalist Justin Shaffer. Yeah, that hat looks Christmas-y


The tune exhorts us to tell that on the mountain, end the hills and everywhere/ the Jesus Christ is born.” climate the first verse to adjust the scene:

While shepherds retained their watchingo’er silent flocks by night,Behold, throughout the heavensThere shone a holy light

The rhyming pattern in this verse, and the others, is “ABCB” (meaning the also numbered present rhyme in ~ the end). And we’ve got some interior rhym through “Behold/shone.” The emphasis is top top the shepherds tending their sheep, when the word “Behold” screams because that our attention: A mysterious irradiate from the heavens! Then an alert how the strong, energetic verbs bring the shepherds’ scene to life in verse two:

The shepherds feared and trembledWhen low over the earth,Rang the end the angels chorusThat hailed our Savior’s birth.

“Feared/ trembled/ rang/ hailed” draw us right into the story. This isn’t a tenderness White Christmas lullaby — this is one Action-Adventure. And the music keeps its finish of the bargain, with a driving rhythm and rollicking melody.

We additionally see some inner slant rhyme v “Rang/angels/hailed.” Good, chop writing.

Now the story advances:

And lo! when they had heard it,They all bowed under to pray,Then took trip on together,To wherein the infant lay.

Again, the short, straight lines work since of the descriptive action verbs (heard, bowed, travelled). And also again, though the only end rhymes take place on present 2 and also 4, various other poetic devices aid make the song straightforward to memorize and also pleasurable to sing and also hear:

Internal slant rhyme (bowed/down; they/pray/baby/lay)Alliteration (travelled/together; they/then; when/where)
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Not historically correct. Archaelogists say there probably might not have been a red truck in the manger. Possibly a blue one.


We with the orgasm in the last verse: the finish of our shepherds’ travels, the lowly manger, the humble Christ — our salvation, delivered on the blessed Christmas morn.

Down in a lowly mangerThe humble Christ was bornAnd God sent out us salvationThat blessed Christmas morn.

When this writer offers an adjective, she or he supplies it well. The humble Christ. We can use countless adjectives to describe Christ, but “humble” is the best one for this setting: God the Son, existing with the father in creation, by who all things were made and without who nothing was made. King the heaven, now come as an infant. And also not to a cradle of gold in a palace, but to a manger — a lowly manger.

And when? top top the blessed Christmas morn. The writer emphasizes the blessedness that this event, in i beg your pardon salvation comes down (“down,” the place of the “humble”). Every native works with each other to produce this writer’s preferred effect.

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A word On The Meter:Many spirituals room unmetered. The music may contain a cadence that musicians refer to as meter, however strictly speaking, there is no poetic meter — no set pattern the stresses and syllables per line. Yet the singing meter of Go Tell it On The Mountain is tight. Back the refrain chin is unmetered, the verses are:

76.76

Meaning every odd-numbered line includes seven syllables, and also every even numbered line has six. This is a variation on the usual Meter (86.86) provided by 17th century English hymnists favor Isaac Watts and also Anne steel (and numerous still today). English hymnists the the 19th and early 20th centuries carried 76.76 into common use, although part 76.76 English hymns were originally written in previously times, in various other languages (for instance, O sacred Head, currently Wounded, written in Latin in 1153, analyzed to German in 1656, and English in 1830). Various other hymns in 76.76 meter include:

All Glory, Laud and also HonorGod Is My strong SalvationThe Voice the God Is CallingLead ~ above O King Eternal
76.76 is a folksy, fun meter. One significant difference between Common Meter hymns and also that the songs choose the spirituality Go Tell the On The Mountain and also most 76.76 hymns is the this singing meter lends itself to ending the odd-numbered lines with multi-syllabled words, where the final syllable is a falling, soft syllable. For instance, look at at these end-of-line native in O sacred Head, now Wounded. Notification how the accent is constantly on the second-to-last syllable quite than the critical one:
WoundedSurroundedGloryGorySufferedTransgression
And for this reason on. We check out the very same pattern in Go Tell it On The Mountain:

It provides these songs a different feel than that of typical Meter hymns choose Amazing Grace and my track Let your Blood Plead because that Me, written with Mike Cosper and also Jeremy Quillo, based on “Lord, how Secure mine Conscience Was” by Isaac Watts.So you can provide a track a various feel, just by something as an easy as dropping one syllable turn off the odd-numbered lines and also making the final syllable soft (this result used to be called “Feminine” in poetry circles). In the instance of Go Tell it On The Mountain, it helps do the Christmas spiritual exciting, assertive and fun.

Justin Shaffer photo courtesy lining HeekeManger and truck photo by Marlene Scoville, offered via an innovative Commons license

Tagged as:action verbs, Advent, Christmas, go Tell it On The Mountain, inner rhyme, Let her Blood Plead for Me, meter, songwriting