Go Tell It on the Mountain (song)
|Go Tell It on the Mountain|
"Go Tell It on the Mountain" is an African-American spiritual song, compiled by John Wesley Work, Jr., dating back to at least 1865, that has been sung and recorded by many gospel and secular performers. It is considered a Christmas carol because its original lyrics celebrate the Nativity of Jesus:
|“||Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere;
go tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ is born.
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In 1963, the musical team Peter, Paul and Mary, along with their musical director Milt Okun, adapted and rewrote "Go Tell It on the Mountain" as "Tell It on the Mountain", their lyrics referring specifically to: Exodus and using the phrase "Let my people go," but referring implicitly to the Civil Rights struggle of the early 1960s. This version became a moderately successful single for them (US #33 pop, 1964).
According to Religious Studies professor and Civil Rights historian Charles Marsh, it was African American Civil Rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer who combined this song with the spiritual "Go Down Moses," taking the last line of the chorus, "Let my people go" and substituting it in the chorus of "Go Tell It on the Mountain." Marsh does not document this claim, but notes that Hamer was highly active in civil rights work beginning in the 1950s, and that the use of the Exodus story and the singing of spirituals played a central role in her activities.
Other artists who have recorded the song (chiefly on either Christmas-themed music albums or collections of spirituals or folk songs) include:
- 1950: Mahalia Jackson on the album Silent Night, Holy Night
- 1960: Bobby Darin on the album The 25th Day of December
- 1964: Gordon MacRae on the album Firestone Presents Your Christmas Favorites, Volume 3 
- 1964: Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra on the album 12 Songs of Christmas
- 1964: Simon & Garfunkel on the album Wednesday Morning, 3 AM
- 1965: Ray Conniff Singers on the album Here We Come A-Caroling
- 1965: Esther & Abi Ofarim on the album "That's Our Song", and a version in French "Viens sur la Montagne"
- 1971: Bob Marley and the Wailers featuring Peter Tosh on the album The Best of The Wailers
- 1981: Anne Murray on the album Christmas Wishes
- 1990: Dolly Parton on the album Home for Christmas
- 1993: Bruce Cockburn on the album Christmas
- 1996: Vanessa L. Williams on the album Star Bright
- 1998: Cece Winans on the album His Gift
- 1999: Garth Brooks on the album Garth Brooks and the Magic of Christmas
- 1999: Jewel on the album Joy: A Holiday Collection
- 2001: Candi Staton on the album Christmas in My Heart
- 2001: Fred Hammond on the album Christmas...Just Remember
- 2001: Sara Evans on the album Country Christmas 2001
- 1967: Jim Nabors on the album Jim Nabors Christmas
- 2003: Oh Susanna on the album Maybe This Christmas Too? on the album (various artists)
- 2003: The Blind Boys of Alabama on the album Go Tell It on the Mountain
- 2004: James Taylor on the album A Christmas Album
- 2007: Toby Keith on the album A Classic Christmas
- 2008: Needtobreathe on the album An Alternative Christmas (various artists)
- 2008: Sheryl Crow on the album Home for Christmas
- 2009: Big Daddy Weave on the album Christ Is Come
- 2012: Pentatonix on the album PTXmas
- 2013: David Crowder Band on the album Wow Christmas: 30 Top Christian Artists and Holiday Songs
- 2015: Hunter Hayes on the album Country Faith Christmas (various artists)
- 2016: Jennifer Nettles on the album To Celebrate Christmas
- 2016: Sarah McLachlan on the album Wonderland
- 2016: Blues Traveler on Go Tell It On The Mountain (single)
- 2017: Hanson (band) - mashup of ‘Joy To The World’ and ‘Go Tell It On The Mountain’ (‘Joy To The Mountain’) on the album Finally It's Christmas
Still more who have recorded the song are Dorothy Maynor 1942 (1st recording and release), Brook Benton 1961, Jimmie Davis 1964, Jim Nabors 1967, Johnny Nash 1969, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles 1970, Don McLean 1991, Garth Brooks 1992, Vanessa Williams 1993, Ann-Margret 2004, Randy Travis 2007, Ricky Skaggs 2011, Neil Diamond 2016, and Alabama 2017.
- Marsh, Charles (1997). God's Long Summer. Princeton. p. 47. ISBN 9780691130675.
- Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. p. 241. ISBN 0-89820-177-2.
- "Firestone Your Favorite Christmas Music - Volume Three - 1964". DLF Music Transfer. 2006.