They Crucified My Saviour

joseph-of-arimathea-cross

 

They crucified my Saviour and nailed him to the cross…

Joseph begged his body and laid it in the tomb…

Mary, she came running a-looking for my Lord…

An angel came from heaven and rolled the stone away…

And the Lord, will bear my spirit home…

 

There is such a wonderful simplicity behind most African American spirituals. By using repetition and a simply melodic formula, they were used to tell Bible stories to a population that was illiterate. It’s an effective way to teach because the music embeds the story into your memory.

entombment

This tune tells us the story of Jesus death and resurrection and is unique in that it includes some of the secondary characters that we don’t often sing about – come on, how many songs do you know that include Joseph of Arimathea? The other thing that most spirituals have in common is the way they include the singer in the story – the Lord will bear my spirit home! It fills us with hope.

That these songs still resonate so strongly with us is a testimony to both the story and the moving, memorable melodies that are used to convey that story.

Well, mostly that’s true. This spiritual is a marked exception. As with most spirituals, no particular person is given credit for the lyrics or text of this song and it’s a good thing because that person would go down in history as the writer of the worst spiritual ever.

The words are great but the music? Holy smack, people. It’s awful. If you’re familiar with “the Dreidel Song” then imagine singing that with these words. Yuck, right? For those of you who read music, here it is (complete with appropriate warning from Scripture – “Do not be alarmed!”):

He arose

If ever there was a song begging to be re-written, this is it. Thankfully, my son, Aaron did just that and turned this into a fabulous blues tune that’s gonna get you moving. You’ll be singin’ it all the way home. I promise.

 

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