Thursday, March 14, 2013

Michael Row the Boat Ashore

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Michael row the boat ashore, hallelujah
Michael row the boat ashore, hallelujah
Sister help to trim the sail, hallelujah
Sister help to trim the sail, hallelujah

The river is deep and the river is wide, hallelujah
Green pastures on the other side, hallelujah

Michael row the boat ashore, hallelujah
Michael row the boat ashore, hallelujah
Sister help to trim the sail, hallelujah
Sister help to trim the sail, hallelujah

Jordan's river is chilly and cold, hallelujah
Chills the body but not the soul, hallelujah

Michael row the boat ashore, hallelujah
Michael row the boat ashore, hallelujah
Sister help to trim the sail, hallelujah
Sister help to trim the sail, hallelujah

The river is deep and the river is wide, hallelujah
Milk and honey on the other side, hallelujah

Michael row the boat ashore, hallelujah
Michael row the boat ashore, hallelujah
Sister help to trim the sail, hallelujah
Sister help to trim the sail, hallelujah


Chances are you can sing at least some of the lyrics to Michael Row the Boat Ashore, but you might not be as familiar with the origins of the song itself.


It is believed to have originated on the Islands of South Carolina by slaves who had been left behind during the Civil War.  As they rowed their boats, the former slaves sang the song to keep rhythm.  You can imagine that this simple act was probably performed with a mixture of excitement, fear, even hesitation as they wondered what awaited them on the other side.


The song was first written down by Charles Pickard Ware and published in 1867. There are many different versions of the lyrics. Here is a version performed by Pete Seeger in 1963.


We hope to see you on the shore of Hilton Head Island for Gullah Celebration 2014. Keep on rowing!


“Bumbye!”

 
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