Words and Music: Robert MacGimsey (1898–1979), 1932
Sweet little Jesus Boy
Bawn long time ago,
Sweet little Holy chil'
An' we didn't know who You wus.
1. manger. Return
2. child. Return
3. was. Return
4. Lord. Return
5. blind. Return
6. Born. Return
7. Sir. Return
8. forgive. Return
According to William Simon, editor of the Reader's Digest Merry Christmas Songbook, Robert MacGimsey wrote this carol after walking past crowded speakeasies in New York City on Christmas Eve, 1932. Intended as an art song, it became one of many quasi-spirituals. Most recordings take liberties with the lyrics, some adding entire verses. The initial 1934 copyright was allow to lapse.
Among several excellent recordings, my favorite is that of Mahalia Jackson.
This song should not be confused with "Sweet Little Jesus Child" written by Percy Bady (copyright 1996) and performed by Kim Rutherford (found on the 1996 CD "The Real Meaning of Christmas").
See William L. Simon, ed., The Reader's Digest Merry Christmas Songbook. Pleasantville, NY: Readers Digest Association, revised 2003.
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