Down By the Riverside (I) (Study War No More)
DESCRIPTION: "I'm gonna lay down my sword and shield Down by the riverside... And study war no more." The singer describes coming to heaven, and living in peace with Jesus.
EARLIEST DATE: 1899 (Barton-OldPlantationHymns)
KEYWORDS: war religious nonballad
FOUND IN: US(SE)
REFERENCES (10 citations):
Dett/Fenner/Rathbun/Cleveland-ReligiousFolkSongsOfTheNegro-HamptonInstitute, p. 55, "Down by the River" (1 text, 1 tune; p. 167 in the 1909 edition);, pp. 74-75, "I Ain't Going t' Study War No More" (1 text) (1 tune)
Brown/Belden/Hudson-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore3 624, "Old Satan's Mad" (5 text, of which the short "A" text is probably "Free at Last"; "B" is a variation on "Down By the Riverside (Study War No More)"; "C" has the "Old Satan's Mad" stanza but a "climbing Zion's walls" chorus; D" is an unidentifiable fragment perhaps related to "I Belong to that Band; and "E" is also a fragment, perhaps of "Free At Last")
Brown/Belden/Hudson-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore3 566, "Down by de Ribberside" (1 text)
Brown/Schinhan-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore5 566, "Down by de Ribberside" (2 tunes plus text excerpts)
Sandburg-TheAmericanSongbag, pp. 480-481, "Ain' Go'n to Study War No Mo'" (1 text, 1 tune)
Joyner-FolkSongInSouthCarolina, p. 90, "Going to Pull My War-Clothes" (1 text, 1 tune)
Barton-OldPlantationHymns, p. 13, "Down By the River" (1 text, 1 tune)
Seeger-AmericanFavoriteBallads, p. 50, "Study War No More" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber/Silber-FolksingersWordbook, p. 281, "Study War No More" (1 text)
Dixie Jubilee Singers, "I Ain't Gonna Study War No More" (Banner 7237/Domino 4206/Challenge 937 [as Jewel Male Quartet], 1928)
Elkins Payne Jubilee Singers, "Down By the Riverside" (Paramount 12071, 1923)
Fisk University Jubilee Quartet, "I Ain't Goin' to Study War No More" (Columbia A3596, 1922; rec. 1920)
Jimmie Lunceford & his Orch. "I Ain't Gonna Study War No More" (Columbia 26938, n.d.; Columbia 35567, 1940)
[Lester] McFarland & [Robert] Gardner, "Down By the Riverside" (Brunswick 108/Vocalion 5127, 1927; rec. 1926?)
Golden Echo Quartet, "Study War No More" (Deluxe 1005, 1945)
Memphis Minnie [Lizzie Douglas], "Down by the Riverside" (Conqueror 9936, 1941)
Missouri Pacific Diamond Jubilee Quartette, "Study War No More" (OKeh 8472, 1927)
Morehouse Quartet, "Down by the Riverside" (OKeh 4887, 1923)
C. Mae Frierson Moore, "Going to Study War No More" (Paramount 12323, 1925)
Norfolk Jubilee Quartet, "Down by the Riverside" (Paramount 12445, 1927)
Oak Ridge Quartet, "Ain't Gwine to Study War No More" (Capitol 40057, 1947)
Pete Seeger, "Study War No More" (on PeteSeeger14) (on PeteSeeger15) (on PeteSeeger44) (on PeteSeeger48)
Pete Seeger & Sonny Terry, "Study War No More" (on SeegerTerry)
Sister Rosetta Tharpe, "Down By the Riverside" (Decca 48106, n.d. but probably 1950s)
Louise Foreacre, "Shout Little Lulu" (on CloseHomeMS)
Three Little Maids, "Ain't Gonna Study War No Mo'" (Bluebird B-5860, 1935; rec. 1933)
NOTES [376 words]: Holger Terp has written an article for the Danish Peace Academy, "Ain't gonna study war no more." He notes several sources who think the song goes back to the Civil War era -- but he observes that there is no evidence of the song in the nineteenth century. He finds a number of uses of the line "down by the river" or "down by the riverside" in that era, but they quite clearly are not this song although they may have inspired it.
It is his belief that the text of this song originated after 1917, using a tune published by John J. Nolan in 1902. Not having heard Nolan's piece "Down By The River Side," I cannot directly verify this, but it seems likely. It also seems likely that the first "Study War No More" text was compiled in 1918, although we cannot absolutely verify this. Holger thinks the text was first published in the 1918 Rodeheaver volume "Plantation Melodies"; again. I have not verified this.
Holger also believes that the song was inspired by the famous verse in Isaiah (2:4) and Micah (4:5), the former of which reads in the (American printings of) the King James Version,
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruninghooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.
These verses have inspired many songs (too bad they haven't inspired more politicians!), although in this case I would consider the song an allusion, not an actual quote.
Incidentally, although the King James translation is so influential that many more accurate translations are afraid to change it, the New English Bible renders it differently at several points:
They will beat their swords into mattocks
and their spears into pruning-knives;
nation will not lift sword against nation
nor ever again be trained for war.
Similarly, the New Jerusalem Bible has "sickles" for KJV "pruninghooks." The "pruning-knives" rendering goes back to the brilliant George Adam Smith. James Moffatt's translation gives the last line as
no longer shall men learn to fight.
Smith omits "any more" from the last line on the basis of the LXX Greek. - RBW
Dett/Fenner/Rathbun/Cleveland-ReligiousFolkSongsOfTheNegro-HamptonInstitute is a variant of Brown/Belden/Hudson-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore3 624B. - BS
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