Twelve Gates to the City

DESCRIPTION: Spiritual: "Oh, what a beautiful city/There's twelve gates to the city, halleluiah"; "Three gates in the east, three gates in the west/Three gates in the north, three gates in the south."
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1929 (recording, Norfolk Jubilee Quartet)
KEYWORDS: nonballad religious
REFERENCES (5 citations):
Warren-EveryTimeIFeelTheSpirit, pp. 72-73, "Oh! What a Beautiful City" (1 text, 1 tune)
Seeger-AmericanFavoriteBallads, p. 81, "Twelve Gates to the City" (1 text, 1 tune)
Cray-AshGrove, p. 39, "Twelve Gates to the City" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber/Silber-FolksingersWordbook, p. 349, "Twelve Gates to the City" (1 text)

Roud #18908
Marian Anderson, "Oh! What a Beautiful City" (Victor 10-1040, 1943)
Blind Gary [Davis], "Twelve Gates to the City" (ARC 7-04-55, 1937; rec. 1935) (1992, on "Harlem Street Singer," Prestige Bluesville CD OBCCD-547-2(BV-1015); recorded 1960))
Blind Boy Fuller w. Sonny Terry, "Twelve Gates to the City" (Vocalion 05465, 1940)
Galilee Singers, "What a Beautiful City" (Decca 7765, 1940)
Norfolk Jubilee Quartet, "Oh What a Beautiful City" (Paramount 12929, 1930; rec. 1929)
Pete Seeger & Sonny Terry, "Twelve Gates to the City" (on SeegerTerry)
Pete Seeger, "Beautiful City" (on PeteSeeger18)); "Twelve Gates to the City" (on PeteSeeger42); "Oh, What a Beautiful City [Twelve Gates to the City]" (on PeteSeeger47)
Sonny Terry [pseud., Saunders Terrell], "Beautiful City" (on Terry01)

cf. "Tell My Mother" (floating lyrics)
Oh, What a Beautiful City
NOTES [75 words]: I know there are earlier recordings of this piece (it was a showpiece for Rev. Gary Davis), and probably earlier printed citations too, but I haven't found them yet. - PJS
The image of the heavenly city may possibly be derived from Chapter 21 of the Apocalypse, which mentions "the holy city, the new Jerusalem" (21:2), but the twelve gates of the city, three on each side, although mentioned in 21:3, are ultimately taken from Ezekiel 48:30-34. - RBW
Last updated in version 5.2
File: PSAFB081

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