Kum ba yah, my Lord

Kum ba yah, my Lord. African American spiritual*, of Gullah origin. The origins of this song are unknown. It was recorded in the 1920s; the recording is found in the American Folklife Center Archive of the Library of Congress. There is a detailed account of various possible histories in the Archive’s Folklife Center News, 32, Nos. 3-4 (Summer/Fall, 2010) available on-line (see below). The article suggests that it was known ‘fairly early throughout the American south, including Texas, Alabama, Florida and Mississippi.’ It is believed to have originated in the islands off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia, in the Gullah dialect, a form of Creole, in which ‘Kum ba yah’ means ‘Come by...

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