Never Said a Mumbalin’ Word

In their book, American Ballads and Folk Songs (1934), John and Alan Lomax report:  “The huge and genial Negro blacksmith on Camp C of the Louisiana State Farm (penitentiary) at Angola furnished the words and air for this spiritual, which is known throughout Texas, Mississippi, and Tennessee.”  The reference is to the Negro spiritual, “Never Said a Mumbalin’ Word.”  The author is, in fact, unknown.  The more familiar spiritual, “Were You There,” is considered a complementary song.

“Mumbalin’ Word” narrates Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross.  “Were You There” serves to complete the victorious story with its last stanza:  “Were you there when God raised Him from the tomb.”  If it were not for the resurrection of Jesus, nothing good would have come from the Cross.  The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is our only hope for a restored, regenerated, forgiven, transformed relationship with Almighty God.

“Mumbalin’ Word” should remind us of the infinite extent to which Jesus went in bringing us back home.


Oh, dey whupped Him up de hill, up de hill, up de hill,
Oh, dey whupped Him up de hill, an’ He never said a mumbalin’ word;
Oh, dey whupped Him up de hill, an’ He never said a mumbalin’ word,
He jes’ hung down His head an’ He cried.

Oh, dey crowned Him wid a thorny crown, thorny crown, thorny crown,
Oh, dey crowned Him wid a thorny crown, an’ He never said a mumbalin’ word;
Oh, dey crowned Him wid a thorny crown, an’ He never said a mumbalin’ word,
He jes’ hung down His head, an’ He cried.

Well, dey nailed Him to de cross, to de cross, to de cross,
Well, dey nailed Him to de cross, an’ He never said a mumbalin’ word;
Well, dey nailed Him to de cross, an’ He never said a mumbalin’ word,
He jes’ hung down His head, an’ He cried.

Well, dey pierced Him in the side, in de side, in de side,
Well, dey pierced Him in de side, an’ de blood come a-twinklin’ down;
Well, dey pierced Him in de side, an’ de blood come a-twinklin’ down,
Den He hung down His head, an’ He died.


He Never Said a Mumberlin’ Word
Roland Hayes, arrangement composer
Charles Holland, tenor
Dennis Russell Davies, piano
from My Lord What a Mornin’


RESOURCES
He Never Said a Mumberlin’ Word – Roland Hayes, composer; Charles Holland, tenor; Dennis Russell Davies, piano.  In My Lord What a Mornin’.  Retrieved April 17, 2019, from https://youtu.be/TlgLRIvJkhE.
Lomax, John and Alan.  (1934).  American Ballads and Folk Songs. New York:  The MacMillan Company.

 

 

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