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Origins: Jacob's Ladder

DigiTrad:
JACOB'S LADDER


Related threads:
Spanish Civil War Jacob's Ladder Parody (3)
Origin: Jacob's Vision (19)
Tune Req: Jerry Silverman's 'Jacob's Ladder' (3)
Jacob's Ladder Folk Festival (10)
Tune Req: Rock of Ages/Jacob's Ladder (7)
Lyr Add: Jacob's Ladder (English) (5)
Lyr Add: Jacob's Ladder (Not In My Name) (6)


105257,2205@compuserve.com (syte-cyer) 09 Nov 96 - 03:40 AM
stephens@execpc.com 09 Nov 96 - 12:51 PM
dick greenhaus 09 Nov 96 - 04:37 PM
Brownie 25 May 97 - 12:38 AM
Joe Offer 25 May 97 - 01:36 AM
rich r 25 May 97 - 12:38 PM
Brownie 25 May 97 - 02:10 PM
George Burt 27 May 97 - 02:34 PM
dick greenhaus 03 Jun 97 - 09:06 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 30 Nov 04 - 12:13 AM
Joe Offer 30 Nov 04 - 12:57 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 30 Nov 04 - 01:37 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 30 Nov 04 - 01:57 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 30 Nov 04 - 02:05 AM
GUEST,C. D. Kearsley 01 Nov 05 - 01:39 PM
Stewie 01 Nov 05 - 05:22 PM
Azizi 01 Nov 05 - 09:06 PM
Kaleea 01 Nov 05 - 09:47 PM
Azizi 01 Nov 05 - 10:29 PM
GUEST,bismark abekah 30 Jun 07 - 03:21 PM
GUEST,Ellen 04 Jan 10 - 07:55 AM
wysiwyg 04 Jan 10 - 08:58 PM
GUEST,bobbop 14 Jan 11 - 09:50 PM
GUEST,GUEST, Joseph 25 Jun 11 - 05:58 PM
Joe Offer 08 Jun 17 - 04:04 AM
GUEST,Pete from seven stars link 08 Jun 17 - 02:51 PM
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Subject: Request
From: 105257,2205@compuserve.com (syte-cyer)
Date: 09 Nov 96 - 03:40 AM

I need to get ahold of any info on a song called "Jacob's Ladder". info such as artist, etc. thanx.


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Subject: RE: Request for info on "Jacob's Ladder"
From: stephens@execpc.com
Date: 09 Nov 96 - 12:51 PM

from the book "Rise up singing" ed. Peter Blood-Patterson:

l. We are climbing Jacob's ladder (3x) soldiers of the cross (brothers, sisters all) 2. Every round goes higher,higher 3. Sinners do you love your Jesus? 4. If you love him, why not serve him? 5. Rise, shine, give God the glory. 6. We are climbing higher, higher

New chorus by Pete Seeger, In Allen (et al) Slave Songs of the US, l867, Pilgrims Hymnal, Friends Hymnal, and other sources.

Regards, from Wyatt Stephens


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Subject: RE: Request for
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 09 Nov 96 - 04:37 PM

There was a popular Labor parody in the 30s which want: We are fighting for our families (3x) Workers of the South!

(add your own verses)


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Subject: Jacob's Ladder..Anyone know the words?
From: Brownie
Date: 25 May 97 - 12:38 AM

I love this old, old spiritual.. does anyone know the words?


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Subject: RE: Jacob's Ladder..Anyone know the words?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 25 May 97 - 01:36 AM

I searched the database under "ladder," and didn't find it. It's in "Rise Up Singing":

1. We are climbing Jacob's ladder (3x)...Soldiers of the cross.

2. Every round goes higher, higher (I think it should be "every rung," not "round.")

3. Sinners, do you love your Jesus?

4. If you love him, why not serve him?

5. Rise, shine, give God glory.

6. We are climbing higher, higher.

This is an easy one for making up verses. -Joe-


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Subject: RE: Jacob's Ladder..Anyone know the words?
From: rich r
Date: 25 May 97 - 12:38 PM

One should also note Pete Seeger's wonderful three word addition to this song. In place of "soldiers of the cross" he has put in "brothers, sisters, all"

rich r


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Subject: RE: Jacob's Ladder..Anyone know the words?
From: Brownie
Date: 25 May 97 - 02:10 PM

Thanks!


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Subject: RE: Jacob's Ladder..Anyone know the words?
From: George Burt
Date: 27 May 97 - 02:34 PM

--And anyone raised in the Congregational (now United Church of Christ) Church learned '--pilgrims of the cross'


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Subject: RE: Jacob's Ladder..Anyone know the words?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 03 Jun 97 - 09:06 PM

And during the cotton-mill unionizing days
of the thirties,it was: "..Workers of the South"

BTW, in many parts of rural America, ladders have rounds (spelled r-u-n-g-s).


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Subject: RE: Request for Jacob's Ladder info.
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 30 Nov 04 - 12:13 AM

Lyr. Add: CLIMBING JACOB'S LADDER

I am climbing up Jacob's ladder,
Don't you grieve after me;
I am climbing up Jacob's ladder,
Don't you grieve after me;
For I'm climbing up Jacob's ladder,
Kase I don't want you to grieve after me.

Ebry round goes higher and higher,
Don't you grieve after me;
Ebry round goes higher and higher,
Don't you grieve after me;
Ebry round goes higher and higher,
Don't you grieve after me;
Kase I don't want you to grieve after me.

MS. of R. C. Bradford, from Cherokee Co., Alabama, 1915-1915.
This song combines two elements often heard in separate songs.
Sorry, I left out the reference on the Alabama version: Newman I. White, 1928 (1965), American Negro Folk-Songs, pp. 59-60, no music.

Allen (Slave Songs of the United States, 1867) rejected "Climb Jacob's Ladder" as spurious because it was found in Methodist hymn books. I think most people now accept it as a spiritual. Allen did publish one short version, No. 177: http://docsouth.unc.edu/church/allen/ss117.jpg

Lyr. Add: JACOB'S LADDER

I want to climb up Jacob's ladder,
Jacob's ladder, O Jacob's ladder,
I want to climb up Jacob's ladder,
But I can't climb it till
I make my peace with the Lord.
O praise ye the Lord.
I'll praise Him till I die,
I'll praise Him till I die,
And sing Jerusalem.

No. 117, with music.


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Subject: RE: Request for Jacob's Ladder info.
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 Nov 04 - 12:57 AM

The Traditional Ballad Index identifies four "Jacob's Ladder" songs. Here's their entry for Jacob #1:

Jacob's Ladder (I)

DESCRIPTION: "I am (we are) climbing Jacob's ladder... And I won't be troubled any more. As soon as my feet strikes Zion's walls, I won't be troubled any more." "Goin' to see my father/mother/sister/brother in the kingdom...." Alternate end: "Soldiers of the cross."
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1901 (Dett)
KEYWORDS: religious nonballad
FOUND IN: US(Ap,SE) West Indies(Bahamas)
REFERENCES (10 citations):
Dett, p. 118, "We Are Climbing Jacob's Ladder (Jacob's Ladder)" (1 text, 1 tune; p. 118 in the 1901 edition)
BrownIII 536, "Jacob's Ladder" (3 texts, but only the "B" text could be this, and even it might be something else)
BrownSchinhanV 536, "Jacob's Ladder" 3 tunes plus text excerpts)
Combs/Wilgus 320, p. 190, "Jacob's Ladder" (1 text)
Lomax-FSNA 235, "Jacob's Ladder" (1 text, 1 tune, plus a union/liberal parody)
Fuson, p. 204, "Hide Thou Me" (1 text, probably a mix, with the form of "Rock of Ages (II -- Hide Me Over Rock of Ages" but verses from "Jacob's Ladder"); p. 213, "I Am On My Way" (1 text)
SharpAp 212, "Jacob's Ladder" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 358, "Jacob's Ladder" (1 text)
DT, JACOBLDR*
ADDITIONAL: Elsie Clews Parsons, "Spirituals and Other Folklore from the Bahamas" in _The Journal of American Folklore_, Vol. 41, No. 162 (Oct-Dec 1928 (made available online by JSTOR)), Anthems: Cat Island #24 p. 463, ("Oh gwine ter climb up Jacob ladder") (1 text)

Roud #2286
RECORDINGS:
Armstrong & Highley, "Climbing Jacob's Ladder" (Paramount 3291, 1932)
Chumbler Family, "Jacob's Ladder" (Columbia 15481-D, 1929)
Maddox Bros. & Rose, "We Are Climbing Jacob's Ladder" (4-Star 1473, n.d. but post-WWII)
Frank & James McCravy, "Jacob's Ladder" (Victor 21188, 1928) (OKeh 45128, 1927) (Brunswick 192, 1928)
Pete Seeger, "Jacob's Ladder" (on HootenannyCarnegie) (on PeteSeeger47) (on PeteSeeger26)

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Don't You Weep After Me" (floating lyrics)
cf. "Jacob's Ladder (V)" (lyrics, theme)
NOTES: In Gen. 28:12, Jacob dreams of a "ladder" (ramp/stairway) from earth with its top "reaching to heaven, and the angels of God climbing up and down it." - RBW
Last updated in version 4.1
File: CW190A

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2016 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


Here are the lyrics we have in the Digital Tradition:

JACOB'S LADDER

l. We are climbing Jacob's ladder (3x)
Soldiers of the cross (brothers, sisters all)
2. Every round goes higher,higher
3. Sinners do you love your Jesus?
4. If you love him, why not serve him?
5. Rise, shine, give God the glory.
6. We are climbing higher, higher

New chorus by Pete Seeger, In Allen (et al) Slave Songs
of the US, l867, Pilgrims Hymnal, Friends Hymnal, and other
sources. WS
note: In the 1930's this was used as a union rallying song, with the
chorus, "Workers of the South"

From "Rise up singing" ed. Peter Blood-Patterson:
@spiritual
filename[ JACOBLAD
WS
OCT98


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Subject: ADD Version: We Are Climbing Jacob's Ladder
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 30 Nov 04 - 01:37 AM

The version in the DT under the title "We Are Climbing Jacob's Ladder" seems to be a combination of the version in Dett and one by Seeger. Here is the one from Dett:

WE ARE CLIMBING JACOB'S LADDER

We are climbing Jacob's ladder (3x)
Soldier of the cross.

Every round goes higher and higher, (3x)
Soldier of the cross.

Sinner, do you love my Jesus? (3x)
Soldier of the cross.

If you love Him, why not serve Him? (3x)
Soldier of the cross.

Do you think I'd make a soldier? (3x)
Soldier of the cross.

We are climbing higher and higher, (3x)
Soldier of the cross.

R. Nathaniel Dett, ed., 1927, "Religious Folk-Songs of the Negro as Sung at the Hampton Institute," p. 118, with music.
Note: Not certain when this was added to the Hampton song book. It is not in Fenner's 1874 initial publication. Probably added in the 1909 edition when twenty-five new songs were contributed by Work and others.


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Subject: RE: Request for Jacob's Ladder info.
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 30 Nov 04 - 01:57 AM

In the hymn or white(?) gospel song, the line is "Every rung goes higher and higher," whereas in two 'spiritual' versions given here, 'rung' has been morphed into 'round.'
No idea about the age or true character of the hymn; the versions I have found, called 'traditional American,' have had material changed or added.
I would like to find the Methodist hymn to which Allen (1867) referred.


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Subject: RE: Request for Jacob's Ladder info.
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 30 Nov 04 - 02:05 AM

Joe, perhaps you could find the version in "The African American Catholic Hymnal," "Lead Me, Guide Me" cd by the Augustine Choir, hymn no. 54? Curious as to its content.


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Subject: RE: Request for Jacob's Ladder info... "round"
From: GUEST,C. D. Kearsley
Date: 01 Nov 05 - 01:39 PM

I suspect that the shorthand technical term "round" (as in a cylindrical shaft of wood or "dowel") was probably substituted for "rung" in the Negro Spiritual version as a matter of course. It was in all likelyhood the skilled slave who was responsible for fabricating the parts for such equipment as ladders on a plantation.


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Subject: RE: Request for Jacob's Ladder info.
From: Stewie
Date: 01 Nov 05 - 05:22 PM

Meade gives 'H.P. Danks w&m, date unk'. His earliest written source is 'Hamtown Students Songster 1875, "Do you think I'd make a soldier", p 36'. Frank and James McGravy made a recording of it for Okeh [July 1927, issued Oct 1927 - OK 45128] a year earlier than their Victor recording cited above in the Ballad Index. [Info from Meade et alia 'Country Music Sources' p581].

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Request for Jacob's Ladder info.
From: Azizi
Date: 01 Nov 05 - 09:06 PM

I remember this song being sung quite a bit by choirs and congregation of my African American Baptist Church in Atlantic City, New Jersey {1950s-1965} and afterwards sometimes during visits.

The verses are similar to those listed in Q's 30 Nov 04 - 01:37 AM post"

1. We are climbin Jacob's Ladder {ladder}
   We are climbin Jacob's Ladder {ladder}
   We are climbin Jacob's Ladder {ladder}
   Soldier of the cross

2. Every round goes higher higher {higher}
   Every round goes higher higher {higher}
   Every round goes higher higher {higher}
   Soldier of the cross

3. Do you think I'll make ah soldier {soldier}
   Do you think I'll make ah soldier {soldier}
   Do you think I'll make ah soldier {soldier}
   Soldier of the cross

4. If you love him why not serve him {serve him}
   If you love him why not serve him {serve him}
   If you love him why not serve him {serve him}
   Soldier of the cross

5. repeat verse one

-snip-

This was basically a unison song, but the word or words in parenthesis were sung by some -not all- members of the choir and congregation {the men?} and had an echo-like effect [Is this a variant form of call& response?].

The first and second line were sung the same way. But on the third line your voice goes up and ends on a high note Like most African American songs, the last line ends with the voice on a down note/

Sorry, I don't know musical terms so my description may be confusing.

BTW, I have to confess that until I read this thread, I didn't 'get' that the word "round" in the line "Every round goes higher higher" meant the "rungs" of a ladder.

"Round".."Rung"..Okay-I get it except I usually think of bells and not ladders when I hear or see the word "rung"...

Frankly, I never wondered what that word meant in the context of that song. I just sang it cause I liked the tune and the words were the way everybody sung it. So that was that...


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Subject: RE: Request for Jacob's Ladder info.
From: Kaleea
Date: 01 Nov 05 - 09:47 PM

And for a different opinion . . .

   An elderly lady I know who spent her life studying the Bible & being deeply in prayer explained to me that legions of Angels often move in great spiral "lines." Thus, every round, or portion of the spiral, goes higher toward the "Throne of God."


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Subject: RE: Request for Jacob's Ladder info.
From: Azizi
Date: 01 Nov 05 - 10:29 PM

I should mention that in my church in Atlantic City, New Jersey
"We Are Climbin Jacob's Ladder" was sung a moderately uptempo song.

BTW, I don't recall us referring to this song as a "spiritual". I do remember there being a friendly rivalry in my church between the church pianist who prefered anthmns and "Negro" spirituals and the church organist who prefered "modern" {usually uptempo} gospel music. One choir of the church sung the anthmns/spirituals and the other sung the gospel songs.

Because this was [is] a middle class Baptist church, we didn't have a [snare] drummer or [electric] guitarist playing with the pianist and organist. But we do now {and have since at least the early to mid 1990s}. In the 1960s, I can only recall an occassional tamborine added to the piano and organ accompaniment...Sometimes in those years one or two women would bring their tamborines from home to play during church, but that was rare, and became even more so as the years went by. [I think even then it was somewhat frowned on as being too 'downhome' and un-middle class {to coin a word}. Nowadays if someone started playing a tamborine at that church I think most people would be surprised and maybe not pleased for the same reason. But I would love it.

I'm speaking here about my "home" church in Atlantic City. I rarely go to church in Pittsburgh so I can't say what happens at those church services.

When I was growing up I remember our Baptist church visiting a "holy roller" church. They had drums and guitars and maybe horns. I remember thinking that their music was so much better than ours.
Years later {about 8 years ago}, I attended a Black COGIG {Church of God In Christ} service in Pittsburgh. It seemed to me that both the sungs themselves and the way that the songs were offered were like the descriptions I had read of church meetings down South during Black slavery time.

At that COGIC service a young woman stood in front of the congregation and started the singing. Others enthusiastically joined in. Then different people from the congregation started a song and others took it up. People here and there would stand up and sing, though no one told them to. Those standing or seated would sing and clap their hands, though many standing lifted one or both of their hands palms up in the air and swayed to the music.

The songs were mostly uptempo, they sounded so good. People did on and off beat hand clapping and {sometimes} stomped their feet while they sung these songs "by heart" {without books and with what seemed to be a full heart}.

Who knows, maybe the only difference between the way these songs were performed and the way they would have been performed at slavery religious gatherings were the piano, snare drum, and electric guitar accompaniment. Oh yes, there were also a couple of women with tamborines at that small church. And the women knew how to play those tamborines. Sometimes they would shake it, and then they'd hit it with the palm of their hand like a drum, and then they'd beat the tamborine on their hip-all the while singing loud and strong.

I liked the fact that these people seemed "real". They didn't appear to be faking their religious estasy. I admired them but I have to say that I felt like a tourist. I was just too reserved to let myself go like they did..I approached the service from the standpoint of an outsider, though I was just as Black as they were.
Instead of getting into the feeling, I wished that I had a
Cam-corder so I could have recorded the singing... I wanted to write down the words to each song. I wanted to interview the church members and ask them how they had come to be so free with their emotions. I wondered why they they weren't worry about how their face looked when they cried. I wanted to ask them if their belief in divine intervention was a strong as they were saying.

I would have loved to have been as free as they were, but my self-control got in the way. I was too reserved.

I couldn't "get happy".

I couldn't let my tears flow though I wanted to.

I couldn't stand and raise my hands palms up without feeling self-conscious about doing so.

I just couldn't let myself go.

And so I left that church service, loving the singing {but not the preaching which was too much fire and brimstone for me}.

So I never went back again...


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Subject: RE: Request for Jacob's Ladder info.
From: GUEST,bismark abekah
Date: 30 Jun 07 - 03:21 PM

am a student who attends st.peter methodist j.s.s.A
p.o.box 14 ashaiman
ghanan
w/a
00233
thans.


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Subject: RE: Request for Jacob's Ladder info.
From: GUEST,Ellen
Date: 04 Jan 10 - 07:55 AM

Is it every round or rung...like the rungs on a ladder.
Rounds don't go higher, but rungs do...hmmm.


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Subject: RE: Request for Jacob's Ladder info.
From: wysiwyg
Date: 04 Jan 10 - 08:58 PM

Staircases can be spiral, and then they'd have rounds, eh.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Request for Jacob's Ladder info.
From: GUEST,bobbop
Date: 14 Jan 11 - 09:50 PM

Does anyone know anything about the hymnbook "Choral Hymns" mention in Allen's preface to Slave Songs of The US? Also, does anyone recognize a 19th-century Methodist hymn that begins, "O, we shall live. The trump I'll hear. When with friends, I'll meet him there."?


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Subject: RE: Request for Jacob's Ladder info.
From: GUEST,GUEST, Joseph
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 05:58 PM

It seems there is dictionary agreement that "round" can be synonymous with "rung," the step of a ladder. Moreover, slaves in the early 19th century may not have been much concerned with such fine points of written English. Can they (or some of them) have pronounced the words alike?

Is there a reproduction of Allen's version on the Internet? Does he say "Sinners, do you love your Jesus" or "Sinner, do you love my Jesus"?

Does he say "Soldiers of the cross" or "Soldier of the cross"?


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Subject: ADD: Sarah's Circle (Carol Etzler)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 08 Jun 17 - 04:04 AM

The Rise Up Singing Songbook (page 249) has a nice song set to the melody of Jacob's Ladder." It's called "Sarah's Circle," and I'm wondering what's the significance of the term "Sarah's Circle." Sarah was the wife of Abraham and mother of Isaac, but I don't remember a circle in the story of Sarah.

SARAH'S CIRCLE
(Carol Etzler)

We are weaving [dancing] Sarah's circle (2x)
Sisters one and all [Sisters, brothers all]

We will all do our own naming (2x) Sisters....

Every round a generation

Here we seek and find our history [future]

On and on the circle's moving

We are open, we are shining!



Tune: Jacob's ladder

So, does anyone know the significance of the term "Sarah's Circle"?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jacob's Ladder
From: GUEST,Pete from seven stars link
Date: 08 Jun 17 - 02:51 PM

Circle of life ? '. Every round a generation'.    Maybe a connection with 1 peter 3:6 ?


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