Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?
DESCRIPTION: "Were you there when they crucified my Lord (x2), Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble; Were you there when...." "Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?" "...pierced him in the side?" "...the sun refused to shine...."
EARLIEST DATE: 1899 (New England Magazine; see NOTES)
KEYWORDS: religious Jesus nonballad
FOUND IN: US(SE)
REFERENCES (6 citations):
BrownSchinhanV 768, "Was You There When They Crucified Jesus?" (1 short text, 1 tune)
Dett, p. 104, "Did You Hear How Dey Crucified My Lord?"; Dett pp. 106-106, App.VI, "Were You There When They Crucified My Lord? (Were You There?)" (3 texts, 3 tunes; p. 141 in the 1901 version; p. 141 in the 1909 version)
Barton, p. 40, "Were You There" (1 text, 1 tune)
Warren-Spirit, pp. 99-100, "Were You There?" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 367, "Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Charles Johnson, One Hundred and One Famous Hymns (Hallberg, 1982), p. 147, "Were You There?" (1 text, 1 tune)
Roy Acuff, "Were You There When They Crucified My Lord" (Columbia 20550, 1949)
Fisk Jubilee Singers, "Were You There?" (on Fisk01)
Minnie Gracie Gadson, "Were You Dere?" (on USSeaIsland03)
Roland Hayes, "Were You There" (Columbia 69812-D, 1939)
Uncle Dave Macon, "Was You There When They Took My Lord Away" (OKeh 45522, 1931; rec. 1930)
Wade Mainer, "Were You There" (Bluebird B-8273, 1939)
NOTES [208 words]: Jim Dixon points out to me that "Lyrics and music to WERE YOU THERE? appeared in an article "Recent Negro Melodies" by William E. Barton, D.D., in The New England Magazine,, Vol. XIX, No. 6, February, 1899, page 714. It was the third in a series of articles; the two earlier ones were called 'Old Plantation Hymns' and 'Hymns of the Slave and the Freedman.' Barton doesn't name a specific source for WERE YOU THERE? but he mentions the Jubilee Singers in the earlier two articles.
"All three articles were collected and published that same year as a book called Old Plantation Hymns but the book seems to be nothing more than offprints from the magazine, with the page numbers changed. The book doesn't credit the magazine nor vice versa.
'The annual reports of the American Missionary Association show that the Jubilee Singers sang WERE YOU THERE WHEN THEY CRUCIFIED MY LORD? at five consecutive annual meetings, 1898 to 1902. So it seems likely that the Jubilee Singers were Barton's source."
All three sources above can be found on Google Books. The information is also found in Marilyn Kay Stulken, Hymnal Companion to the Lutheran Book of Worship, Fortress Press, 1981, p. 192. - RBW
Barton is a reprint of the articles cited by Jim Dixon. - BS
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