Musical Countdown to Christmas: Go Tell it on the Mountain by John W. Work Jr.

Musical Christmas7

Welcome to Day 7 of my Musical countdown to Christmas. Today we’re going to take a look at Go Tell it on the Mountain, shared with the world by John W. Work, Jr.

Who was John W. Work, Jr.?

  • Born on June 15, 1901 in Tullahoma, Tennessee
  • Son of a church choir director
  • Grew up in Nashville
  • Earned his Master’s degree in Latin
  • Taught Latin and Greek
  • A professor at Fisk University
  • A professional musician who published more than 50 compositions
  • Decided to collect songs sung by American slaves

The Story Behind Go Tell it on the Mountain

  • The song was sung by American slaves as far back as 1865
  • In 1960 John W. Work III published Folk Songs of the American Negro, which included the song called, Go Tell it on the Mountain (author unknown)
  • Peter, Paul & Mary changed the lyrics and renamed the song, Tell it on the Mountain
  • Paul Schlossal rewrote the lyrics for children and named the song, Go Tell it on the Swingset
  • The song has been recorded by over 20 popular artists through the years

Historical Context

  • 1955 – Winston Churchill was defeated
  • 1955 – First transistor radio was produced by Sony
  • 1956 – Elvis Presley released his first song
  • 1957 – Soviet Union launched the Sputnik
  • 1958 – NASA was founded
  • 1959 – Xerox produced the first commercial photocopier
  • 1960 – Students protested segregation in Greensboro, North Carolina

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My Gift for today:

A paperback copy of the Kathi Macias’ 12 Days of Christmas, which contains 12 stories by 12 different authors. My story, Cecile’s Christmas Miracle, is number seven in this series.

12 Days of Christmas Cover


Musical Countdown to Christmas: Joy to the World by Isaac Watts

Musical Christmas5

Welcome to my musical countdown to Christmas, Day 5. You may also want to read about the carols and composers from Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, and Day 4. Don’t forget to leave a comment for an opportunity to win my gift of the day.

Who was Isaac Watts?

  • Born on July 17, 1674 in Southampton, England
  • He complained to his father that the songs of the church were hard to sing; his father told him to write something better
  • Learned Greek, Hebrew, and Latin
  • 1696 became a tutor
  • 1702 became a pastor
  • Struggled with poor health
  • Wrote books on geography, astronomy, grammar, and philosophy, but he’s most famous for the more than 700 hymns/poems which he wrote both for adults and children. Most of his poetry and hymns were based on Scripture passages.
  • Considered the “Father of English hymnody”
  • Awarded a Doctor of Divinity degree by the University of Edinburg

The story behind Joy to the World

  • Written in 1719 under a tree on the Abney Estate near London, England
  • Based on Psalm 98
  • Original theme of the song was the second coming of Jesus
  • Watt’s poem was set to music over 100 years later by Lowell Mason

Historical context (1719)

  • Daniel Defoe published Robinson Crusoe
  • First recorded sighting of the northern lights (Aurora Borealis) in New England

Looking for more details?

My gift for today

Leave a comment below to be entered in a draw for the devotional book, Rise. This book has 32 weeks of devotionals for students in their first year of college, written by ninety-two different authors.

Rise by Ruth L Snyder


Musical Countdown to Christmas: Away in a Manger by John T. McFarland

Musical Christmas3

Welcome to day 3 in my musical countdown to Christmas. You may also be interested in reading the posts for Day 1 and Day 2. Don’t forget to leave a comment below for your chance to win!

Who was John T. McFarland?

  • Born January 2, 1851
  • Methodist Minister who served in Iowa, Illinois, Rhode Island, New York, and Kansas
  • Edited Sunday School Programs for the Methodist Episcopal Church

The Story behind Away in a Manger

  • First published in 1885 in a Lutheran Sunday School book compiled by James R. Murray
  • Most people say the author of the first two stanzas is unknown.
  • Another collection published in 1887 by James R. Murray (Dainty Songs for Little Lads and Lasses) claimed the song was written by Martin Luther. “Luther’s Cradle Hymn, Composed by Martin Luther for his children and still sung by German mothers to their little ones.”
  • The carol became known in Germany AFTER it was widely known in the United States, which discounts the theory that Martin Luther wrote the first two stanzas
  • Third stanza was written by John T. McFarland in 1908 for use in a children’s church day program

Historical Context of the Song

  • Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn was published
  • First issue of Good Housekeeping was published
  • Louis Pasteur developed a successful vaccine against rabies
  • The first bottle of Coca-cola was sold in 1886
  • Nikola Tesla began experimenting with x-rays

Looking for more details?

My Gift for today

Enter a comment below for your chance to win “Welcome to Whit’s End” a CD with two Adventures in Odyssey stories and a bonus mini-drama.

Adventures in Odyssey