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Saturday, April 4, 2015

"Lift Him Up" - African American Gospel Versions Of That Christian Hymn

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post showcases seven examples of African American choirs and vocal groups performing the Christian hymn "Lift Him Up". There are various Gospel songs with the title "Lift Him Up". This post focuses only on a few of the numerous African American Gospel versions of that early twentieth century "Lift Him Up" hymn.

All of these renditions are examples are what I refer to as "gospelized hymns" - Christian hymns that are arranged and sung in an African American Gospel style. Notice the different African American Gospel styles that are showcased in this post.

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to the composer of this hymn and thanks to the all of the arrangers, singers and musicians who are featured in these examples. Thanks also to the publishers of these examples on YouTube.

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INFORMATION ABOUT THE HYMN "LIFT HIM UP"
From https://hymnstudiesblog.wordpress.com/2009/03/20/quotlift-him-upquot/
"INTRO.: A song which talks about the role of the church in making known the message of Him who was lifted up from the earth to help draw all men unto Him is "Lift Him Up." The text was written by Johnson Oatman Jr. (1856-1922). Oatman was a prolific hymn text writer, who is credited with "Count Your Blessings," "Hand in Hand with Jesus," "Higher Ground," "I’ll Be a Friend to Jesus," "Sweeter Than All," "The Last Mile of the Way," "No, Not One," and "What Shall It Profit a Man?", along with "He Included Me," "If Today Were the End of the World," and "When the Sun Goes Down." The tune for "Lift Him Up" was composed by Benjamin Burke Beale (1874-1945). The song is dated 1903 and was originally copyrighted by Beall, who is probably best known for the melody used with Ada Powell’s "Sing to Me of Heaven.""

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LYRICS: LIFT HIM UP
(Johnson Oatman Jr., lyrics; Benjamin Burke Beale, tune)

How to reach the masses, men of every birth,
For an answer, Jesus gave the key:
“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth,
Will draw all men unto Me.”

Refrain:
Lift Him up, lift Him up;
Still He speaks from eternity:
“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth,
Will draw all men unto Me.”

Oh! the world is hungry for the Living Bread,
Lift the Savior up for them to see;
Trust Him, and do not doubt the words that He said,
“I’ll draw all men unto Me.”

Don’t exalt the preacher, don’t exalt the pew,
Preach the Gospel simple, full, and free;
Prove Him and you will find that promise is true,
“I’ll draw all men unto Me.”

Lift Him up by living as a Christian ought,
Let the world in you the Savior see;
Then men will gladly follow Him Who once taught,
“I’ll draw all men unto Me.”

Source: http://library.timelesstruths.org/music/Lift_Him_Up/
-snip-
I grew up with this song (attending a Black Baptist church in Atlantic City, New Jersey)- the standard hymnal version and a version similar to that given in Example #2. However, I've never heard the "Don't exalt the preacher"..." verse sung then or now. Other lyrics for this song are found below.

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FEATURED AFRICAN AMERICAN GOSPEL EXAMPLES
These examples are presented in chronological order by their publishing date on YouTube with the oldest video given first.

Example #1: St. James Mass Choir - Lift Him Up



Marcel West, Uploaded on Feb 9, 2009

Mass Choir sings the hymn Lift Him Up
-snip-
The "St. James" referred to in this video is an African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church that is located in Detroit, Michigan. Here's an excerpt from this church's website:
"The word African means that the church was organized by people of African descent and heritage. It does not mean that the church was founded in Africa, or that it was for persons of African descent only.

The church's roots are of the family of Methodist churches. Methodism provides an orderly system of rules and regulations and places emphasis on a plain and simple gospel.

Episcopal refers to the form of government under which the church operates. The chief executive and administrative officers of the African Methodist Episcopal denomination are the Bishops of the church."

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Example #2: The Drinkard Singers singing "Lift Him Up"



gospellin, Uploaded on Feb 28, 2009
-snip-
Here's a portion of that arrangement that is also found in some of the other Black Gospel versions of this hymn:
My God said
[God said]
If I walk right
[If I walk right]
He said
[He said]
If I talk right
[If I talk right]
He said
[He said]
If I live right
[If I live right]
He said
[He said]
If I pray right
[If I pray right]
I'll draw
[I'll draw]
I'll draw
[I'll draw]
Draw all men unto me.
-snip-
Some choirs sing "God said" instead of "He said".

Read the words to the "Who will help me lift Jesus" in the notes that are given under Example #5.

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Example #3: "Lift Him Up"- Rev. Cleophus Robinson



Rowoches, Uploaded on Jan 19, 2011

Bertha Robinson, wife of Rev. Cleophus Robinson, & the Bethlehem Baptist Church Choir, singing, "Lift Him Up," which happens to be one of my ABSOLUTE favorite hymns. From the Savoy album, WE SHALL GAIN THE VICTORY.
-snip-
Here's my attempt at transcribing part of this song-when the choir departs from the standard rendition of "Lift Him Up".

-snip-
Read the "Who will help me lift Jesus" portion given after Example #5. The soloist improvises his or her lines for this portion.

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Example #4: Pastor Smith sings - Lift Him Up



PastorDeweySmithJr, Uploaded on Mar 2, 2011

Wonderful praise
-snip-
"E. Dewey Smith, Jr., is the Pastor/Teacher of The Greater Travelers Rest Baptist Church located in Decatur, Georgia". http://www.streamingfaith.com/index.php/directory/broadcaster/29503/
-snip-
In this video, people are coming to the altar for prayer. Notice how Pastor Smith, Jr. does a form of lining out with this song.
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lining_out
"Lining out or hymn lining, called precenting the line in Scotland, is a form of a cappella hymn-singing or hymnody in which a leader, often called the clerk or precentor, gives each line of a hymn tune as it is to be sung, usually in a chanted form giving or suggesting the tune. It can be considered a form of call and response.

It has survived to the present day among some communities and contexts, including the Gaelic psalmody on Lewis in Scotland, the Old Regular Baptists of the southern Appalachians in the United States, and for informal worship in many African American congregations."
-snip-
As you can see from this video, "lining out" is still formally done in some African American churches.

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Example #5: Hymn #411 Lift Him Up (Praise Break/War Cry) - Third Baptist @ UBC for Pastor's Installation Service



BaptistBoi Published on Mar 20, 2012

Third Baptist Church @ UBC Singing a great Hymn of the Church "Lift Him Up" which followed with a Praise Break.
-snip-
I'm not sure where this church (these churches?) is (are) located.

The choir sings the standard lyrics for "Lift Him Up" (without the "Don’t exalt the preacher" verse), and then from 3:33 -5:51 in that video, adds the following call & response lyrics [The response is given in brackets.]

Oh, tell me who’ll
[Help me lift Jesus]
Will you
[Help me lift Jesus]
Will you
[Help me lift Jesus]
Help me lift Jesus
[Help me lift Jesus]
I’m gonna clap my hands
[Help me lift Jesus]
I’m gonna stomp my feet
[Help me lift Jesus]
I’m gonna shout if I want to
[Help me lift Jesus]
Will you
[Help me lift Jesus]
Will you
[Help me lift Jesus]
We gonna take you higher
[Higher]
Higher
[Higher]
Higher
[Higher]
Higher
[Higher]
I’ll draw all men unto me

(Oh), preacher will you
[same pattern as above]
I wanna see you clap your hands
I wanna see you stamp your feet
Lift your hands if you want to
Come on help me lift Jesus

Oh church, will you ...
[same pattern as above]
-snip-
Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2015/04/bishop-kenneth-moalessr-war-cry-and.html for a pancocojams post on the Praise Break "War Cry".

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Example #6: Soul Stirrers - Lift Him Up (1949)



niyicodemus, Published on May 21, 2012

How to reach the masses, men of every birth,
For an answer, Jesus gave the key,
And I, if I be lifted up from the earth,
I'll draw all men unto Me.

Lift Him up, lift Him up;
Till He speaks from eternity:
"My Lord and if I, if I be lifted up from the earth,
I'll draw all men unto Me."

Well and I heard the voice of Jesus say
Come on to Me and rest
Lie down thy weary one lie down
with thy head upon my breast

Oh lift Him up, (I wonder will you) lift Him up;
Till He speaks from eternity:
God said "if I, if I be lifted up from the earth,
I'll draw all men unto Me."

I said the world is hungry for the Living Bread,
Lift my Savior up for men to see;
No man never doubt not a word He said,
"I'll draw all men unto Me."

Lift God up, (I wonder will you) lift Him up;
Till He speaks from eternity:
God said "if I, if I be lifted up from the earth,
I'll draw all men unto Me."
-snip-
Click https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwWZUWXlxO8 for a 1989 video of the Soul Stirrers singing a different arrangement of "Lift Him Up".

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Example #7: "Lift Him Up" Hymn # 411 - UBC Women's Choir



BaptistBoi, Published on Nov 2, 2013

Women's Choir singing "Lift Him Up" as opening hymn on Women's Day 2013!

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