"Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho" (or alternatively "Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho" or "Joshua Fit de Battle ob Jericho") is a well-known African-American spiritual.
The song is believed to have been composed by slaves in the first half of the nineteenth century. Some references suggest that it was copyrighted by Jay Roberts in 1865.
The lyrics allude to the biblical story of the Battle of Jericho, in which Joshua led the Israelites against Canaan (Joshua 6:15-21). However, like those of many other spirituals, the words may have had a hidden meaning alluding to eventual escape from slavery - in the case of this song,
In 1882, the song was published in Jubilee Songs by M. G. Slayton
And in A Collection of Revival Hymns and Plantation Melodies by Marshall W. Taylor.
In this book it was titled "Make Ready".
A collection of revival hymns and plantation melodies : Taylor, Marshall W. (Marshall William), 1846-1887 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive
The first recorded version was in July 1922 by Harrod's Jubilee Singers, on Black Swan 2057-B.
Harrod's Jubilee Singers were an internationally acclaimed gospel quartet patterned after the famous ensemble formed during the 19th century at Fisk University. The group was led by tenor Archie Harrod, who also recorded as a solo comedian.
Harrod's Jubilee Singers consisted of:
Ruth Mays, soprano
Mathilde Walton, contralto
Archie Harrod, tenor
John Woodward, bass
In July 1922 the group recorded six religious titles in New York for Harry Pace's Black Swan label.
The Black Swan-label went into swift decline through the end of 1922 and into 1923. It would declare bankruptcy before 1923 ended and in May, 1924 the recordings would be leased to Paramount.
The ORIGINAL version of "Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho" was also re-released in 1924 on Paramount 12116.
Apparantly Jay Roberts was the name of the composer credits on this Paramount re-release.
(c) Paul Robeson (1925) (as "Joshua Fit De Battle Ob Jericho")
With Lawrence Brown on the piano and vocals.
Recorded on July 30, 1925 in Camden New Jersey.
It was released on Victor 19743.
Victor matrix BVE-33088. Joshua fit de battle ob Jericho / Lawrence Brown ; Paul Robeson - Discography of American Historical Recordings
78 RPM - Paul Robeson And Lawrence Brown - Joshua Fit De Battle Ob Jericho / Bye And Bye - Victor - USA - 19743
Joshua Fit de Battle ob Jericho : Paul Robeson : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive
(c) Nazarene Congregational Church Choir (1926) (as "Joshua Fit de Battle of Jericho")
Recorded November 20, 1926
Released Gennett 6004
Also released on Herschel Gold Seal 2016
and also on Herwin 92002, on Black Patti 8018, on Champion 15380
and on in England on Vocalion X-9964
Nazarene Congregational Church Choir Of Brooklyn - Joshua Fought De Battle Of Jericho / Bye And Bye (Shellac, 10", 78 RPM) | Discogs
(c) Dixie Jubilee Singers (1928) (as "Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho")
Recorded in May 31, 1928.
Released on Columbia 14329-D
(c) W.C. Elkins and His Dextra Singers (1928) (as "Joshua Fit de Battle of Jericho")
Recorded in December 1928 in Long Island City, NYC
Released on QRS R7068
W. C. Elkins & His Dextra Singers - Joshua Fit De Battle Of Jericho / A Wheel In A Wheel (Shellac, 10", 78 RPM) | Discogs
(c) Clarence Williams Rhythm Kings (1935)
(c) The Delta Rhythm Boys (1940)
Recorded on December 16, 1940.
It was released on Decca 8522 and Decca 25019
The Delta Rhythm Boys - Dry Bones / Joshua Fit De Battle Of Jericho (Shellac, 10", 78 RPM) | Discogs
And here are the Delta Rhythm Boys in 1959:
(c) Josh White (1944) (as "Joshua Fit The Battle Of Jericho")
Recorded in 1944
Released on the Asch-label (Asch 358)
Read the linernotes (scroll down on the next link)
Here's Josh White filmed for British television in 1965, including narrative fragments which seem to have been adapted from the autobiographical sections of The Josh White Song Book. This was near the end of Josh’s career, and, while he is playing well, he is obviously tired. Still, the selection of songs gives a good picture of his prime repertoire:
“Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho” seems to have been a favorite song since childhood, based as it was on his namesake, and it remained a highlight of Josh’s concerts throughout his career. It was also one of his most characteristic guitar arrangements, with a fast, swinging rhythmic attack that was quite different from the playing of anyone else on the scene.
(c) Cozy Cole All Stars (1944) (as "Jericho")
Lammar Wright (trumpet)
Ray Conniff (trombone)
Ben Webster (tenor saxophone)
Johnny Guarnieri (piano)
Teddy Walters (guitar)
Billy Taylor (bass)
Cozy Cole (drums)
Recorded NYC, March 13, 1944
Released on Savoy 502.
Listen here: www.jazz-on-line.com/a/mp5c/SAV5410.mp3
(c) Golden Gate Quartet (1946)
Recorded in June 1946.
It was released on Columbia 37833 (USA) as part of the album "Golden Gate Spirituals"
And on Columbia D.C. 505 (UK)
And here is the Golden Gate Quartett live in France, 1958
(c) Kid Ory (1946)
Recorded on October 16, 1946.
It was released on Columbia 37275
(c) Sidney Bechet and His Blue Note Jazzmen (1949) (as "Joshua Fit De Battle Ob Jericho")
Wild Bill Davison (cnt), Ray Diehl (tbn), Sidney Bechet (sop), Art Hodes (pno), Walter Page (bs), Wilmore "Slick" Jones (dms).
Recorded New York March 23 1949
Released on the Blue Note album: "Sidney Bechet and Wild Bill Davison Vol 2"
Ralph Flanagan adapted it under the title "Joshua".
(c) Ralph Flanagan and His Orchestra
Recorded in New York City on March 1, 1950.
It was released by RCA Victor 20-3724
(c) Mahalia Jackson (1955)
With the Falls-Jones Ensemble: Mildred Falls, piano; Ralph Jones, organ; Clifton "Skeeter" Best, guitar; Walter Page, bass; Gordon "Specs" Powell, drums;
Recorded in New York City on Thursday November 3, 1955
Released on Columbia EP "You'll Never Walk Alone" (Columbia B 2072)
And here's Gospel Queen Mahalia as she appeared in 1957 singing on the Nat King Cole show.
(c) Odetta (1957) (as "Joshua")
(c) Laurie London tried her luck at another traditional after her Millionselling #1 US Hit "He's Got the Whole World In His Hands".
In 1958 her follow-up "Joshua" was a cover of "Joshua Fought The Battle Of Jericho".
(c) Pete Seeger (1960)
(c) Jimmie Rodgers (1960)
(c) Jordanaires (1951)
Jordanaires = Bill Matthews, Warren M. Matthews, Robert T. Hubbard and Culley Holt
Recorded July 4, 1950 Castle Studio, The Tulane Hotel, 206 8th Ave. North, Nashville, TN–
Matrix 76628/NA 2185
Released on Decca 9-14589
(c) Elvis Presley (" Joshua Fit The Battle")
Recorded by Elvis on Monday, 31 October 1960
Released on the album "His Hand In Mine"
(c) Grant Green (1963) (as"Joshua Fit De Battle Ob Jericho")
Herbie Hancock (piano) Grant Green (guitar) Butch Warren (bass) Billy Higgins (drums) Garvin Masseaux (tambourine)
Recorded at the Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, December 21, 1962
Released on "Feelin' the Spirit" (Blue Note Records BLP 4132).
(c) Lonnie Donegan (1962)
Released on the album "Sing Hallelujah"
(c) Jackie Wilson and Linda Hopkins (1963)
(c) Clara Ward Singers (1959)
Here are the Clara Ward Singers in Antibes, France during the 1962 Antibes Jazz Festival.
Geraldine Jones, lead. Mildred Means, soprano
(c) Weavers (1967)
(c) Prince Buster (1967) [as Dance Cleopatra hit in the Netherlands in '72]
(c) Big Maybelle 1968
(c) Les Humphries Singers 1970 on album "Rock My Soul" (Decca label)
(c) Swingle Singers (1991) ("Joshua Fought The Battle Of Jericho")
Released on the album "Around The World - Folk Music".
(c) Cassandra Wilson (and Ron Carter) (1995) (as "Joshua Fit de Battle ob Jericho")
on album "Bob Belden's Shades of Blue"
(c) Tom Verlaine (2011)
Released on compilation: "Pioneers For A Cure - American Songs To Fight Cancer"
(c) Hugh Laurie (2011) (as "Battle Of Jericho")
Released on album "Let Them Talk"
(c) And finally here's a very beautiful version from a group called "Amicitiae Vocis" from "Chile"