Sunday, June 8, 2014

African American Choir Directing Styles In Arrangements Of "Ride On King Jesus"

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post provides five examples of the African American Spiritual "Ride On King Jesus" with a special focus on the differences between the styles of the choir directors and the different arrangements of the renditions.

Click for two examples of "Ride On King Jesus" (with the second line "Ride On King Emmanuel").

Also, click for historical versions of this Spiritual.

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks also to all of the choir directors, vocalists, and musicians who are featured in this post and thanks to all those who are quoted in this post. In addition, thanks to the publishers of these YouTube videos.

In my opinion, arrangements of "Ride On King Jesus" with the combination of lyrics from the Spiritual "In That Great Gettin' Up Morning (perhaps also with perhaps lyrics from other Spirituals) are examples of what I call "Gospeled Spirituals". I define "Gospeled Spirituals" as African American Spirituals that are performed in a Gospel style. I'm not sure when these particular arrangements were first performed, but I think that it was probably in the 1980s.

These examples are presented in chronological order based on their posting date on YouTube, with the oldest examples given first.

Example #1: In HIS Presence Gospel Choir - "Ride On King Jesus"

myfleshdiesdaily Uploaded on May 6, 2007

One of our or should I say the crowds favorites. We originally got this from Stoneybrook but we rock it. Harder? Well, you be tha judge lol...sing yall!!!
Here's the beginning lyrics:
Ride on King Jesus
No man can-a hinder Thee*
Ride on King Jesus
No man can-a hinder Thee (repeat multiple times)
This line may be "No man can-a hinder me".
"No man can-a hinder Thee" means "No man (no one) can stop You (meaning "Jesus").
"No man can-a hinder me" means "No man (no one can stop me (from following Jesus).

I've always believed that "No man can-a hinder Thee" is the earlier version of that line as its meaning fits with the first line, but that may be because that is the way I learned this song. Lyrics to a 19th century version of this song or a closely related song are found in the Addendum to this post. In that song the line is given as No man can hinder me (we).

The "a" [pronounced "ah) at the end of certain words is just a rhythmic addition which has no meaning.

This arrangement combines "Ride On King Jesus" with the African American Spiritual "In That Great Gettin' Up Morning".

This arrangement of "Ride On King Jesus" also includes these floating verses:

When I get to heaven I’m gonna wear a robe
No man can a hinder me*
Walk all over those streets of gold
No man can a hinder me

See King Jesus sittin on the throne
No man can a hinder me
Goin to a land where I never grow old
No man can a hinder me
Other floating verses from African American Spirituals that have been sung in renditions of this song:

One of these mornings and it won’t be long
Look for me and I’ll be gone

Goin up to glory gonna sing and shout
Ain’t nobody there gonna put me out
"It has become a common practice to sing a verse or verses of “In That Great Gettin' Up Morning" with "Ride On King Jesus".

Here's a link to an arrangement of "Great Gettin' Up Morning" that was sung by Mahalia Jackson:
Note that this page indicates that "In That Great Gettin' Up Morning" was written by Mahalia Jackson. While this version of that Spiritual may have been written by Mahalia Jackson, the earliest version of that song was collected in 1874, its composer being an unknown enslaved African American man.

Example #2: Apostolic Tabernacle Mass Choir sings Ride on King Jesus

dvejendla, Uploaded on May 7, 2007

Merced Apostolic Tabernacle Mass Choir singing Ride on King Jesus on Easter Sunday Morning '07
This arrangement of "Ride On King Jesus" includes the same two floating verses that were sung in the rendition given as "Example #1"

Notice the number of women in that congregation who are wearing hats. Although it had long been traditional for females to wear hats during church services in many African American churches, that custom is dying or is rarely followed. This is even the case in many African American churches during the Easter church service, although probably more females wear hats on that Sunday service than during any other church service.

Click for a pancocojams post on that subject.

Example #3: Voices Of Testimony Ride On King Jesus

VoicesofTestimony, Uploaded on Jan 16, 2009

The Voices of Testimony minister during the Throw Back 80's Era with this favorite Ride on King Jesus!!!!

Example #4: Wilmington Chester Mass Choir- Ride On King Jesus

FreLi77, Uploaded on Feb 17, 2008

This is a classic clip of the late Rev. Ernest Davis Jr.'s Wilmington Chester Mass Choir sing "Ride On King Jesus" back in 1988. This was recorded by a local Philly TV station for an annual show called "Gospel Extravaganza".
This arrangement combines the Spiritual "Ride On King Jesus" with the Spirituals "In That Great Gettin' Up Morning" and The Spiritual "Ain't That Good News". Here are my transcription of the lyrics for that arrangement with the optional words given in brackets:

Ride on King Jesus
No man can-a hinder me
Ride on King Jesus
[Ride on]
No man can-a hinder me (4x)

In that great gettin’ up morning
Fare thee well Fare thee well
In that great getting up morning
Fail thee well fair thee well

(repeat this verse multiple times)

No man can-a hinder me
No man can-a hinder me
No man can-a hinder me
No man can-a hinder me

I got a crown up in-a God’s kingdom
Ain’t-a that good news
I got a crown up in-a God’s kingdom
Ain’t-a that good news
I’mma gonna lay down this world*
[Gonna] Shoulder up my cross
Take it home to [my] Jesus
Ain’t-a that good news.
Take it home to my Jesus
Ain’t-a that good news.


*I think that the end of that line is usually sung as “this burden”.

The words "fare thee well" mean "farewell". "Farewell" is "used to express good wishes on parting."

Example #5: Ride On King Jesus - Rev. Ernest Davis, Jr. & the Wilmington/Chester Mass Choir

Kadeem Graves, Published on Jun 21, 2012

This is from their 1991 video "He's Preparing Me: Live In Atlanta".

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  1. thank you for the information! it's very usefull to me

    1. You're welcome, astrolabio.

      God bless you!