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Telling the News

Updated: Jan 29, 2021

Telling the News

By Elisa Morgan

People of faith have used music to worship God, tell of his work, and connect in community throughout our history. The Christmas season has a rich legacy of such music - each culture and people group over the centuries have shared songs that tell the story of Jesus’ birth.

Spirituals are a musical legacy within the Black American culture. They were a way of sharing stories during centuries of slavery, and now serve as a reminder of the power of the oral tradition in remembering and proclaiming truth.

Go Tell It On the Mountain is a spiritual that has influenced broader Christmas celebrations. It was first written down by John Wesley Work, Jr., who was on the faculty at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. He collected slave songs and spirituals for the Fisk Jubilee Singers, publishing New Jubilee Songs as Sung by the Fisk Jubilee Singers (1901) and New Jubilee Songs and Folk Songs of the American Negro (1907). The 1907 edition included Go Tell It On the Mountain.

As we move through the Christmas season, this song is a great reminder that the Good News of Jesus is for all people. Who will you tell?

Go Tell It On the Mountain

Go, tell it on the mountain,

Over the hills and everywhere

Go, tell it on the mountain,

That Jesus Christ is born.

While shepherds kept their watching

Over silent flocks by night

Behold throughout the heavens

There shone a holy light.

The shepherds feared and trembled,

When lo! Above the earth,

Rang out the angels’ chorus

That hailed the Savior’s birth.

Down in a lowly manger

The humble Christ was born

And God sent us salvation

That blessed Christmas morn.

Note that with oral tradition, there are a variety of different verses that have been included in this spiritual, the above verses are the most common.

Elisa Morgan is the cohost of the new podcast, God Hears Her. She is also the cohost of Discover the Word and contributor to Our Daily Bread. Her latest book is When We Pray Like Jesus. Her other books include The Beauty of Broken, Hello, Beauty Full, and She Did What She Could. Connect with Elisa @elisa_morgan on Twitter, and @elisamorganauthor on Facebook and Instagram.


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