maandag 5 december 2016

Psalm 137 / By The Waters Of Babylon (1786) / What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July ? (1852) (1972) / Rivers Of Babylon (1970) / The Road To Babylon (1976)

Psalm 137  (Greek numbering: Psalm 136) is one of the best known of the Biblical psalms. Its opening lines, "By the rivers of Babylon..." (Septuagint: "By the waters of Babylon...") have been set to music on several occasions, most succesfully covered by German Disco group Boney M.

But long time before that the first 2 verses of  Psalm 137 were used for a musical setting in a round by English composer Philip Hayes

(c) Philip Hayes (1786)  (as "By The Waters Of Babylon")

It is one of the "Canons in the Unison" (for 4 vocals)
It is on page 105 of "The Muses Of Delight" (1786) by Philip Hayes

Here's the complete book

Don McLean covered the Philip Hayes setting as 'Babylon', which was the final track on his 1971 album American Pie.

In 1976 Manfred Mann's Earth Band incorporated the Philip Hayes setting in their composition "The Road To Babylon", on their album "The Roaring Silence".

Another cover of the Philip Hayes round was featured at the end of the episode Babylon during the first season (2007) of Mad Men.

In 1894 Czech composer Antonín Dvořák set verses 1-5 of Psalm 137 to music as #7 of  Biblical Songs (Op. 99).

Notable recordings in English include those by George Henschel and Paul Robeson.

In 1913 George Henschel recorded a version for the HMV-label
Recorded December 16, 1913
Released on His Master's Voice #02527 and D104

Search Results for GEORGE HENSCHEL

But here's a George Henschel recording from 1929
Recorded December 12, 1929 in London
Released on Columbia LB3

Listen here:

And here's Paul Robeson (sung in Czech) from 1961 in one of his latest recordings

Paul Robeson Discography

Another version of Psalm 137 was set to music by Charles T. Howell

(c) Reinald Werrenrath (1914)  "By the waters of Babylon"

Listen here

By the waters of Babylon, | National Jukebox

And here's a gospel-setting from the 1950's.

(c) The Gospel Clefs (1959) (as "By The Waters Of Babylon")

45cat - The Gospel Clefs - Open Our Eyes / By The Water Of Babylon - Savoy - USA - 45-4119

In 1969 reggae-group The Melodians wrote another version of Psalm 137, also adding one verse from Psalm 19. Their "new' interpretation was titled "Rivers Of Babylon"

Dowe and McNaughton used the first 4 verses of Psalm 137. and verse 14 of Psalm 19 ("Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight"),

But  the lyrics were not the only thing Dowe and McNaughton had "borrowed".
The melody bore a striking resemblance to the traditional "(Oh) Happy Day". 

Happy Day - Trinity Choir (1913)
Label: Victor 17499
Matrix B-13601.
Recorded July17, 1913 (Camden, New Jersey)

Listen here:

SEE ALSO: ----Joop's Musical Flowers: Happy Day (1913) / Oh Happy Day (1967)

And The Melodians "borrowed" the Psalm 19 ("Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight") words and melody from a very rare recording from 1962.
An unknown artist, produced by well-known ska producer Simeon L Smith, recorded a song called "Zion Oh Lord (Hola Zion)".

Unknown Artist [ Hola Zion( Fs 128) / Yes Or No(fs 127) ] [167656] Drum&Bass Records || Reggae,Ska,RockSteady,Roots,Dancehall,Calypso,Dub

Listen here (at 36 seconds)

(c) The Melodians (1970)  (as "Rivers Of Babylon")

The Melodians - Rivers Of Babylon (Vinyl) at Discogs

45cat - The Melodians - Rivers Of Babylon / Version - Beverley's - Jamaica - S.R. 138

Even before Boney M hit the big time with their version of  "Rivers Of Babylon", Linda Ronstadt recorded a version on the album "Hasten Down The Wind".

(c) Linda Ronstadt (1976)

Hasten Down the Wind - Wikipedia

(c) Boney M (1978)

Rivers of Babylon - Wikipedia

(c) Steve Earle (1995)

On his album  Train a Comin' - Wikipedia

(c) Sinead O'Connor (2007)

On her Theology (album) - Wikipedia

(c) Jimmy Cliff (live in New York)

More versions here:

The Originals © by Arnold Rypens - RIVERS OF BABYLON

And here:

Cover versions of Rivers of Babylon 

Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) was an abolitionist, women's suffragist, author, and statesman who escaped from slavery to become one of the most powerful American orators of the 19th century.

In 1852 Frederick Douglass used Psalm 137 in his most important speech, commonly republished as "What to a slave is the 4th of July?" or "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?", an untitled speech originally given by Frederick Douglass on July 5, 1852.
He originally gave the speech to the Ladies' Anti-Slavery Society in Rochester, N.Y.
The speech is over 2,500 words long.

“What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” | Teaching American History

What to a slave is the 4th of July? - Wikipedia

In 1972, renowned actor Ossie Davis brought to sonic life several of Douglass's visionary writings, plying his resonant voice to produce riveting renditions of the Douglass classics "What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July," "If There Is No Struggle, There Is No Progress," "A Plea for Freedom of Speech," and "Why I Became a Women's Rights Man.

Frederick Douglass' The Meaning of July 4 for the Negro | Smithsonian Folkways

On the next link you can listen to a sample of this reading (it is #117)

Smithsonian Folkways

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