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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Staple Singers - "Sit Down Servant" (Sound File, Lyrics, & Song Meaning)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post provides a sound file of and lyrics to The Staple Singer's version of the African American spiritual "Sit Down Servant".

This post also includes a bonus sound file of "Sit Down Servant" by The Swan Silvertones, Dorothy Love Coates and The Original Gospel Harmonettes.

The content of this post is presented for religious, and aesthetic purposes.

All rights to this material remains with their owners.
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FEATURED SOUND FILE: Sit Down Servant-STAPLES



Uploaded by GStrongRAW on Feb 2, 2009

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LYRICS: SIT DOWN SERVANT
One Group Member – Woh oh oh oh, sit down
Soloist – Now now now now no
Group –Sit down!
Soloist –Woh oh oh, please don’t make me
Group- Sit down!
Soloist – Cause I just got to heaven
Group- Sit down!
Soloist- Gonna walk all around.
Group –Sit down servant and rest a while. Sit down!
Soloist- Done call little David
Group- Sit down!
Soloist- With his rock and sling.
Group-Sit down!
Soloist I don’t wanta meet him.
Group- Sit down!
Soloist – He’s a dangerous man.
Group –Sit down servant and rest a while. Sit down!

Soloist - Sit down servant!
Group – I can’t sit down.
Soloist Sit down!
Group – Lord I can’t sit down.
Soloist - Sit down servant.
Group – I can’t sit down.
Just got to get to heaven and I can’t sit down.

[Soloist sings while group repeats “Can’t sit down” after every line]

So you can watch the sun
See how steady she run.
Don’t let it catch you with your work undone.
Joshua Joshua the son of Nun
He thought God almighty was a Gospel son
God spoke to Joshua to do My will.
He said lift up your hand, the sun stand still.
He give me a lantern and he told me to go.
He give me a harp and he told me to go.
If I threw my lungs away
I would get them back in a coming day.
When I get to heaven gonna put on my shoes
And walk around heaven and tell my news.
Look up to the hills in the heat of the day
Tune up my hart and begin to play.

Soloist - Sit down servant!
Group-I can’t sit down.
Soloist - Sit down servant.
Group-Oh I can’t sit down.
Soloist - You oughta sit down servant.
Group- I can’t sit down. Oh! I just got to heaven and I can’t sit down.
Soloist – Oh-o-o sit down servant.
Group –I can’t sit down.
Soloist – Sit down servant.
Group- I can’t sit down.
Soloist –Why don’t you sit down servant.
Group & Soloist – I can’t sit down. I just got to heaven and I can’t sit down.

[Transcription by Azizi Powell, 8/17/2012. Words in italics indicate that I am unsure of these words. Corrections and additions to this transcription are very welcome.]

THE MEANING OF THE LYRICS TO "SIT DOWN SERVANT"
A person arrives in heaven and is told to rest after his or her hard labor as a servant of the Lord. However, the person is so excited to be in heaven that he or she can't sit down and rest. Instead, that newly arrived soul wants to walk around heaven, and see Biblical figures, while retaining an awareness that they are dangerous beings. [I think in this context "dangerous" means "powerful". The person singing is being humble in recognizing a difference between himself or herself and the great Biblical persons mentioned in Biblical stories.]

The theme of being too excited to rest from your hard labor as a servant of God when you first get to heaven is also expressed in an alternative line to "I just got to heaven and I can't sit down". That line is "My soul is so happy that I can't sit down".

BONUS SOUND FILE: Sit Down Servant


Uploaded by DaSourcespr06 on Oct 18, 2008

The Swan Silvertones and Dorothy Love Coates and The Original Gospel Harmonettes come together for a live performance of "Sit Down Servant"...

RELATED LINK
Click http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Staple_Singers for information about the Staple Singers.

Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2012/08/rev-james-cleveland-plenty-good-room.html for a post that features the related African American spiritual "Plenty Good Room".

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS AND THANKS
My thanks to the unknown composers of "Sit Down Servant". Thanks also to the Staple Singers and The Swan Silvertones and Dorothy Love Coates and The Original Gospel Harmonettes for their renditions of this song. Thanks to the uploader of this sound file.

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UPDATE August 2, 2015
Here's a video of the Staples Singers - Sit Down Servant. Hat tip to Anonymous August 2, 2015 for alerting me to this video.

The Staple Singers | Sit down servant



Álvaro Mazzino, Published on Apr 15, 2013

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4 comments:

  1. Brilliant transcription, great work!
    I just wanted to add (cos I didn't spot it here, but could be my eyes!) that it was written by DE CORMIER JR., ROBERT R. (according to website http://www.metrolyrics.com/sit-down-servant-lyrics-jackson-browne.html )

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    1. Thanks Anonymous!

      Here's the link to that site: http://www.metrolyrics.com/sit-down-servant-lyrics-jackson-browne.html

      The lyrics on that site are quite similar but not the same as the lyrics to The Staple Singers' version.

      I wonder if Robert R. De Cormier, Jr. was the first person to compose this song or at least the Gospel version of this song.

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  2. Thank you for making this page. I love the Staple Singers. The song is so much richer knowing the words.
    In this version, Mavis Staple also calls David "mighty" at about 0:40 so I think you are right about the meaning of dangerous: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxgZuE14he8

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    Replies
    1. Greetings, anonymous August 2, 2015

      I appreciate your comment and I agree that the song is so much richer knowing the words.

      I misses finding that video of the Staples Singers performing this song. I'll add it to the post with a hat tip to you.

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