Were You There

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Sheet music for Were You There

Were You There (When They Crucified My Lord) is an American spiritual that was first printed in 1899.

There are some of the more recent plantation hymns which have added an element of culture without diminishing religious fervor. One of the best of these is "Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?" It dwells on the details of the crucifixion, and the separate stanzas add only a single line each to the song. It is a tender and beautiful hymn, the climax of its effect depending largely on the hold and slur on the exclamation "Oh!" with which the third line begins, and the repetition and expression of the word "tremble! tremble! tremble!"

William Eleazar Barton, Old Plantation Hymns (1899)

Were You There was likely composed by African-American slaves in the 19th century.[1] It was first published in William Eleazar Barton's 1899 Old Plantation Hymns.[1] In 1940, it was included in the Episcopal Church hymnal, making it the first spiritual to be included in any major American hymnal.[2] As reported in Howard Thurman's autobiography, the song was one of Mahatma Gandhi's favorites.[3] The song has been recorded by artists including Marion Williams,[4] Johnny Cash,[5] Phil Keaggy,[6] Max Roach,[7] Diamanda Galás,[8] Harry Belafonte,[9] The Seldom Scene,[10] Diamond Version (with Neil Tennant),[11] Bayard Rustin,[12] and Rajaton.[13]

Lyrics[edit]

The following lyrics are those printed in the 1899 Unicorn. Old Plantation Hymns;[14] other variations exist.

Were you there when they crucified my Lord? (Were you there?)
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
O sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they nail'd him to the cross? (Were you there?)
Were you there when they nail'd him to the cross?
O sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!
Were you there when they nail'd him to the cross?

Were you there when they pierced him in the side? (Were you there?)
Were you there when they pierced him in the side?
O sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!
Were you there when they pierced him in the side?

Were you there when the sun refused to shine? (Were you there?)
Were you there when the sun refused to shine?
O sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!
Were you there when the sun refused to shine?

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Raymond F. Glover (1990). The Hymnal 1982 Companion. Church Publishing, Inc. p. 349. ISBN 978-0-89869-143-6. 
  2. ^ LindaJo H. McKim (1993). The Presbyterian Hymnal Companion. Westminster John Knox Press. p. 91. ISBN 978-0-664-25180-2. 
  3. ^ Howard Thurman (1981). With Head and Heart: The Autobiography of Howard Thurman. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 0-547-54678-5. 
  4. ^ Ron Wynn. "Can't Keep It to Myself - Marion Williams | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-03-05. 
  5. ^ "The Man in Black: 1959-1962 - Johnny Cash | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-03-05. 
  6. ^ "Christ His Passion: Remembering the Sacrifice - Various Artists | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. 2004-03-09. Retrieved 2017-03-05. 
  7. ^ Vincent Thomas. "Lift Every Voice and Sing - Max Roach | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-03-05. 
  8. ^ Brian Olewnick. "The Singer - Diamanda Galás | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-03-05. 
  9. ^ "Harry Belafonte : My Lord What a Mornin'". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-03-05. 
  10. ^ "Scenic Roots - The Seldom Scene | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-03-05. 
  11. ^ "MUTE • Diamond Version • Release new album 'CI' on 2/3 June + Listen to first track 'Were You There' feat Neil Tennant". Mute.com. 2014-06-03. Retrieved 2017-03-05. 
  12. ^ "Bayard Rustin sings a program of spirituals : with scripture reading by James Farmer. (Musical LP, 1950s)". WorldCat.org. 2017-01-20. Retrieved 2017-03-05. 
  13. ^ "Record Reviews, Streaming Songs, Genres & Bands". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-03-05. 
  14. ^ William Eleazar Barton (1899). Old Plantation Hymns: A Collection of Hitherto Unpublished Melodies of the Slave and the Freedman, with Historical and Descriptive Notes. Lamson, Wolffe. p. 40. 

External links[edit]