Sunday, March 22, 2015

Five African American Renditions Of "Nearer My God To Thee"

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post showcases five African American renditions of the Christian hymn "Nearer My God To Thee".

The sound files and the video that are included in this post are examples of different old school Black (African American) Gospel styles. All of these examples are what I refer to as "gospelized hymns" - Christian hymns that are arranged and sung in a (Black) Gospel style.

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Sarah Flower Adams, 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.

"Nearer, My God, to Thee" is a 19th-century Christian hymn by Sarah Flower Adams, based loosely on Genesis 28:11–19,[1] the story of Jacob's dream. Genesis 28:11–12 can be translated as follows: "So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it..."

The hymn is well known, among other uses, as the alleged last song the band on RMS Titanic played before the ship sank."
The standard lyrics to that song are included in that Wikipedia article.

These videos are presented in chronological order based on their publishing dates on YouTube with the examples with the oldest dates presented earliest.

Example #1: Nearer My God to Thee - Dr. Jesse White

PaztaTAS, Uploaded on Sep 2, 2008

The man with "the golden voice," the late Dr. Jesse White, with his choir, The United Voices of Love, sing this great gospel classic. It will surely stir your soul.
Dr. White, a distinguished preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, was pastor of the True Love Missionary Baptist Church of Fort Wayne, Indiana.
The song begins at 2:41 of this video with this vocal introduction (transcribed with grammatical changes, with optional words in brackets)
"The minister was preaching
And the crowd was standing near,
The congregation was singing a tune
Their voices were loud and clear.*
[You know] The crowd that stood all around him.
They were crying. I could plainly see
For the song they sang was touching.
It was "Nearer My God To Thee".
*I learned this line as "With a voice that was loud and clear".

Examples #2 and #4 of these Black gospelized versions of "Nearer My God To Thee" begin with these same lyrics.

Example #2: Nearer My God To Thee - Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers

funkeyjunk, Uploaded on Jan 17, 2009

The Live Performance of this epic song performed by Mr. Soul himself, Its Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers.

Example #3: Mighty Clouds of Joy - Nearer My God to Thee

saxypeanut77, Uploaded on Jun 9, 2009

Example #4: Nearer My God To Thee - Bobby Womack,"Back To My Roots"

pannellctp, Published on Apr 6, 2012

Soul/R&B legend Bobby Womack is definitely a man who's paid his dues -- as the writer of such classics as "It's All Over Now" (covered by the Stones), "Lookin' for a Love" (covered by J. Geils) and the guitarist on Sly Stone's chestnut "Family Affair" and Wilson Pickett's mover "Funky Broadway," he has all the prerequisites for a spot in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. After leaving his strictly religious father's home in the late '50s, (with a car bought for them by Sam Cooke) Bobby and the Womack Brothers set out to conquer popular radio, using their church-bred voices and down-home, bluesy stylings to twist and change genres they hadn't even heard of yet. Back to My Roots finds Womack doing just that, singing some of his favorite gospel numbers, while retaining some of that old fire that made him so popular with the white youth of America and Britain in the '60s. Enlisting the aid of James W. Alexander (Sam Cooke's partner and a former member of the Pilgrim Travelers gospel group) to introduce and close the album, Womack dedicated this work to his father, who unfortunately died before he got a chance to hear the finished product, as did Alexander. With versions of "Rug" (one of his '60s hits), "Motherless Child" and the Staple Singers' classic "Oh Happy Day," this album showcases Womack's love of all styles and genres, from country pickin' to funky, bluesy breakdowns, to choir-esque, baptismal uber-joy."...

Example #5: Mahalia Jackson - Nearer, My God, to thee

Erika Gollan Published on Apr 4, 2014

Die Gospelsängerin Mahalia Jackson sang 1960 das religiöse Lied.

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