Today is Epiphany, and a great song to continue the announcement theme is the African-American spiritual “Go, Tell It on the Mountain.”
Like a lot of traditional songs, this one has a long history of use and adaptation. Peter, Paul, and Mary adapted the lyrics and sang it as a protest song. Simon and Garfunkel, nice Jewish boys from Brooklyn,1 performed it with the Christmas lyrics, although there is an alternate set of non-Christmas lyrics.
And now, the lyrics:
Chorus: 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, throughout the heavens There shone a holy light. (Chorus) The shepherds feared and trembled When lo! Above the Earth Rang out the angel chorus That hailed our Savior's birth. (Chorus) Down in a lowly manger Our humble Christ was born, And God sent us salvation That blessed Christmas morn. (Chorus)
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Join us at https://lavezzi.us/ on each of the Twelve Days of Christmas to join in this virtual sing-along. Want to catch up? Care to be a serial singer? Here you go:
- Here is the song from the First Day of Christmas.
- Here is the song from the Second Day of Christmas.
- Here is the song from the Third Day of Christmas.
- Here is the song from the Fourth Day of Christmas.
- Here is the song from the Fifth Day of Christmas.
- Here is the song from the Sixth Day of Christmas.
- Here is the song from the Seventh Day of Christmas.
- Here is the song from the Eighth Day of Christmas.
- Not complaining: we’re fortunate to have a long and wonderful history of Christian holiday music by Jewish artists. Remember “White Christmas” and “Easter Parade,” both by Irving Berlin. ↩
- Or not: some are sensitive to the appearance of cultural appropriation, although whatever I play I play with respect. ↩
- The proper style requires both flexibility and exuberance, neither of which comes easy to me. To make it easier for folks to sing along, I’ve been playing these recordings pretty close to the vest; I’ve continued that with this one. ↩