Friday, June 1, 2012

Videos Of "Keep Your Hand On The Plow (Hold On)"

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part I of a four part series of selected videos and sound files of African American spirituals or Gospel songs that include the words "hold on" or "holding on". Part I showcases four videos of the African American spiritual "Keep Your Hand On The Plow" (also known as "Hold On"). A version of the lyrics to this spiritual are also included in this post. In addition, this post includes my comment about how to distinguish an African American spiritual from an African American gospel song.

For Part II of this series ("Hold On Just A Little While Longer"), click

For Part III of this series ("Hold On Old Soldier"), click

For Part IV of this series (Various Gospel Songs With The Phrase "Hold On"), click h ttp://

The content of this post is presented for historical, folkloric, religious, and aesthetic purposes. All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to the unknown composer/s of this traditional African American spiritual. Thanks also to all the vocalists, musicians, producers, and uploaders of these videos.


Hold on, hold on
Keep your hand on the plow, hold on

Verse 1
If you want to get to Heav'n I tell you how
Just keep your hand on the Gospel plow
Keep your hand on the plow, hold on
If that plow stays in your hand
Land you straight the Promised land
Keep your hand on the plow, hold on

Verse 2
Mary wore three links of chain
Ev'ry link was my Jesus' name
Keep on plowing, don't you tire
Every round goes high an'higher

Verse 3
I Heard the voice of Jesus say
Come on to me, I am the way
When my way get through this night
O the Lord will be my light

Verse 4
You can talk about me as much as you please
For your talking ain't gonna stay on me
When I get to Heav'n go sing and shout
There'll be nobody There to put me out

Posted by steveliu on

Another version of this song's lyrics is also posted on that page.

These videos are posted in relative chronological order of the performance.

Video #1: Odetta at Carnegie Hall - Hold on (gospel plow)

Uploaded by wecms on Feb 27, 2012

Hold on (the gospel plow) was recorded in Odetta live concert at Carnegie Hall on April 8, 1960 featured support from Bill Lee on string bass. ( Lee -- father of Spike Lee)

This is a civil rights version of the African American spiritual "Keep Your Hand On The Plow". Click this page of my Cocojams website to find examples of civil rights lyrics for this song That page also contains lyrics and videos of other civil rights songs.

Video #2:
Keep Your Hand on the Plow - Black Pioneer Heritage Singers

Uploaded by JCVdude on Aug 12, 2010

Coming together to preserve the powerful Gospel Sound that Alberta's original Black settlers brought from the Deep South 100 years ago are the Black Pioneer Heritage Singers. Led by Junetta Jamerson, most members of this collective of professional singers and musicians are actual descendants of these early settlers. They deliver a spirit filled sound that is universal in its appeal yet seldom heard outside of the Southern United States.

Video #3: Hold On

Uploaded by smceo28 on Jun 26, 2011

Waubonsie Valley High School's Varsity Chamber Choir performing "Hold On". May, 2011.

I this is how I visualised this song while singing it in choir. I hope you enjoy the presentation.

I do not own any of these pictures.

Video #4: HOLD ON

Published on Mar 11, 2012 by CheckDEMout
Facebook us!

Distinguishing African American spirituals from African American gospel songs

In addition to stylistic differences between African American spirituals and African American gospel, I look at the relative date of the song's composition, and whether the song has a known composer.

In my opinion, African American spirituals ("Negro spirituals") are those religious songs that were composed and sung by African Americans largely from the American Southern, prior to the 20th century. Furthermore, almost all of those songs have unknown composers. That said, it's possible for African American spirituals to be "gospelized" and it's also possible for Gospel songs to have a similar format as spirituals - such as call & response, four line verses with the first three lines repeating themselves, and/or "zipper" verses - verses that are the same except for a substituted noun or verb (such as "I will sing", "I will pray", "I will shout".)

Andrae Crouch's composition "Soon And Very Soon (, and Fred Hammond's composition "When the Spirit of the Lord" ( are contemporary African American gospel songs that have a lot of elements which are very similar to traditional African American spirituals.

Thank you for visiting pancocojams.

Viewer comments are welcome.

No comments:

Post a Comment