The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Go, Tell It On The Mountain

Version 1; Compare
Go Tell It On The Mountain - Version 2
Go Tell It On The Mountain - Version 3

John Wesley Work, Jr., 1907
Based on an African-American Spiritual, early 1800s
Work was an alumnus and faculty member at Fisk University.

Music: African-American spiritual.
Melody: MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF
SATB: MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

1. While shepherds kept their watching
O'er silent flocks by night,
Behold throughout the heavens
There shone a holy light

Go, tell it on the mountain
Over the hills and everywhere
Go, tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born.

2. The shepherds feared and trembled
When lo! above the earth
Rang out the angel chorus
That hailed our Saviour's birth; Chorus:

3. Down in a lowly manger
The humble Christ was born;
And God sent out salvation
That blessed Christmas morn. Chorus:

4. 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:

5. He made me a watchman
Upon the city wall
And If I am a Christian
I am the least of all. Chorus:


According to The Hymnuts, from an old Negro spiritual "When I was a seeker" this Christmas hymn was written by John Wesley Work Jr. It was included in a 1940 book, American Negro Songs and Spirituals.

According to George Pullen Jackson, the tune "Go Tell It" is closely related to the spiritual "We'll March Around Jerusalem." The tune has similarities to "Oh, Susanna" and "Tramp, tramp, tramp, the boys are marching," by George F. Root.

William L. Simon, ed., Readerís Digest Merry Christmas Songbook (1981)

To black slaves in the United States, the birth of a Savior who would set all men free was a miracle to be sung about. And when there was something so notable to tell, what better place to tell it from than a mountain, just as Jesus had chosen for His Sermon on the Mount. "Go Tell It on the Mountain," an authentic spiritual that dates probably from the early 1800s, was first popularized in 1879 by the Fisk University Jubilee Singers. This chorus traveled throughout the United States and Europe at the end of the last century, earning scholarship-fund money for Fisk, a school founded to educate freed slaves.

Ron Clancy, author of the Christmas Classics series of Christmas carol books, has now created a number of "The Story Behind The Music" YouTubeô videos recounting the histories of numerous Christmas carols, including this carol and Mary Had A Baby.

The Stories Behind The Music Of
Two Spirituals

For links to all of Clancy's carol videos, go to
Christmas Classics Videos

I do not have any financial or other relationship with Ron Clancy, The Christmas Classics, or YouTube.

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