STJ#1018, Come and Go with Me

This might be, as the hymnal suggests, a spiritual from the time of American slavery. This might also be, as some online sources suggest, a traditional blues tune.

I hate when the search for information in inconclusive.

Because I don’t know whether to talk about the use of 19th century spirituals in our predominantly white congregations, or if we talk about the rich blend of traditions that occurred in the American south, as sounds from Africa, Europe, and the Americas all found themselves woven together into new music.

This is, however, an easy song to learn and lead, and I can see why it’s popular. Although if my searches are evidence of anything, it’s that a song like this can’t be tied down to one particular arrangement or melody – so I caution against the rigidity that other hymns may demand.

Come and go with me to that land,
Come and go with me to that land,
Come and go with me to that land
where I’m bound.  (2x)

There’ll be freedom in that land…

There’ll be justice in that land…

There’ll be singin’ in that land…

The truth is, I prefer how the song sounds in other versions, with variations on the melody we know, and with different patterns of call and response. I’ll leave you with this first known recording of the song, from Blind Willie Johnson with backing vocals by Willie B. Harris:

2 responses to “STJ#1018, Come and Go with Me”

  1. I wonder if it isn’t effectively both a spiritual and a blues.

    1. David Kohlmeier Avatar
      David Kohlmeier

      The late, great James Cone once referred to the blues as “secular spirituals.”

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