We are climbing Jacob’s ladder

We are climbing Jacob’s ladder (Jacob’s Ladder). African American spiritual*.  Enslaved Africans found fertile connections between the biblical story of Jacob’s ladder in Genesis 28: 10-22 and their existential experience and spirituality. As with many spirituals, the origins are unknown. An undocumented account indicates that the spiritual dates between 1750 and 1875 (James, 1995, p. 58). Ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax (1915–2002) suggests without documentation that ‘This is one of the old spirituals which emerged from white tradition, but was early remade by Negroes’ (Lomax, 1960, p. 453). He may have gleaned this from a note by the editors in Slave Songs of the United States* (1867)...

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