Thursday, April 26, 2012

Black Churches Sing Old Dr. Watts Hymns

Edited by Azizi Powell

Go Down Moses - Mt Do Well

Uploaded by Hymnchoir on Aug 8, 2009

This post showcases five selected videos of Black churches singing Dr. Watts hymns. Two videos of the same song are provided for contrast. The lyrics for two of these featured songs are also included in this post.

The content of this post is presented for educational, historical, folkloric, entertainment, religious, and aesthetic purposes.

My thanks to persons shown in those videos and thanks to the uploaders of these videos.

Video #1: Go Down Moses - Mt Do Well
This video is presented at the top of this page.

"Recorded by RAM and KB in March 2001 at Mt. Do Well Baptist Church in McConnells, SC. Go to"


The lyrics for this version of "Go Down Moses" are posted below.

Video #2: I Love The Lord, He Heard My Cry

Uploaded by StampsMedia on Mar 1, 2011

Rev. Alphonso Bowens performs the classic call & response song, " I Love The Lord He Heard My Cry" filmed and recorded live in Greensboro, Alabama

Video #3: Pastor T.L. James sings "Dr. Watts" [I Love The Lord, He Heard My Cry]

Uploaded by chj333 on May 3, 2009

Pastor T.L. James sings "Dr. Watts" in 1989 in Memphis, TN.

Here's a viewer comment that contains the words to this version of this hymn:
chj333, 2009
"Call: I love the Lord He heard my cry.

Response: I-I love the Lord He heard my cry.

Call: And pitied every groan.

Response: A-n-d pitied e-v-e-r-y groan.

Call: Long as I live while trouble rise.

Response: L-o-n-g as I-I live while trouble rise.

Call: I'll hasten to His throne.

Response: I'll ha-asten to-o-o His throne.

Call: I-I love the Lord He bowed His head.

Response: I-I love the Lord He bowed His head.

Call: And chased my grief away.

Response: A-n-d chased my grief away."
Click for a contemporary version of this song by Whitney Houston & The Georgia Mass Choir.

Video #4: Lord I Would Come to Thee

Uploaded by StampsMedia on Jan 1, 2010

The song Lord I Would Come to Thee as styled in this video is affectionately called within the African-American Church an Old Dr. Watts hymn. Old Dr. Watts hymns are sung in a slow, ornamental style, with each line being lined out by a leader before it is sung by the congregation.

Old Dr. Watts refers to Isaac Watts, an early 19th century English composer. Although these type hymns are fading from use in modern church services, Old Dr. Watts hymns enjoy a special place in the heart of the African-American church. Mourners Bench Records through its upcoming release Take Me Back to the Old Landmark hopes to preserve this part of the African-American heritage for future generations

Video #5: When I Can Read My Title Clear

Uploaded by StampsMedia on Dec 27, 2009

LYRICS FOR GO DOWN MOSES (Dr. Watts style hymn)
(from lyrics superimposed on video given as Video #1)

Go down Moses
Way down in Egypt land
You tell ol’ pharoah that I said to
Let my people go.

Let my people go
Let my people go
You tell ol’ pharoah that I said to
Let my people go
I’m going down to the river
I’m gonna stick my sword in the sand
I’m gonna shout my troubles all over
I done made it to the promised land
Let my people go
Let my people go
You tell ol’ pharoah that I said to
Let my people go
Would not be a sinner
I’ll tell you the reason why
I’m afraid my Lord would call me
I wouldn’t be ready to die.

Let my people go
Let my people go
You tell ol’ pharoah that I said to
Let my people go
Some say give me silver
Some say give me gold
But I say give me Jesus
To save my dying soul.
Let my people go
Let my people go
You tell ol’ pharoah that I said to
Let my people go
Weep like a willow
You can moan like a dove
But you can’t get to heaven
Lest you go by love.

I came to Jesus as I was
Weary worn and sad.
I found in Him a resting place.
And He has made me glad.

This version combines floating verses from African American spirituals with "standard" verses from Dr. Watts hymns.

Click for the standard lyrics for the African American spiritual "Go Down Moses".

Click for a post that showcases the song "He Set Me Free" and three songs sung in the Dr. Watts style.

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Visitor comments are welcome.


  1. "Go Down Moses" is a traditional African American spiritual and not a hymn.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Anonymous.

      I'm aware that "Go Down Moses" is an African American Spiritual. I used the term "hymn" in this context to refer to how this Spiritual is sung.

  2. This page is priceless. It should be preserved for many generations to come. Thank you for this small archive. God Bless.

    1. You're welcome, Jason.

      I appreciate your comment. Thanks to YouTube, I became aware of Dr. Watts hymns and other cultural offerings.

      I'm glad to do what I can to share these examples.

  3. it 5:01 in the morning and . dr.watts dropped in my sprit and i wondered who was this person . i can remember singing a few to my babies when they wouldn't go to sleep if it wasn't for Jesus i couldn't stand the the storm.and a charge to keep i have and a God to glorify. my husband once said to me dr. watts was just the style in song. i wish he was still living so could show him your site