"Go Down Moses" is originally an African American Spiritual. Now a shorter version is sung for the Jewish holiday Passover.

Notes

Here's a shorter version sung for Passover (sometimes only the first verse and the chorus are sung):

When Israel was in Egypt's land
Let my people go.
Oppressed so hard they could not stand,
Let my people go.

(Chorus)
Go down, Moses,
Way down in Egypt land.
Tell ol' Pharaoh,
Let my people go.

Thus saith the Lord, bold Moses said,
Let my people go,
If not, I'll smite your first-born dead,
Let my people go.
(Chorus)

No more shall they in bondage toil,
Let my people go,
Let them come out with Egypt's spoil,
Let my people go.
(Chorus)

O let us all from bondage flee,
Let my people go,
And soon may all the Earth be free,
Let my people go.
(Chorus)

Comments

Harriet Tubman, a former slave, led many people to safety in the underground railroad. She was called "Moses" because she led her people to freedom in the Northern United States, just like Moses did for the Jewish people who were slaves in Egypt. He led them out of Egypt. According to the book, "A treasury of Afro-American folklore: the oral literature, traditions" by Harold Courlander, the "Moses" of this song refers to Harriet Tubman. Courlander wrote: "Remineses of former slaves… have pinpointed Harriet Tubman… as the Moses of the song…" Later he wrote: "The situation of the Israelites in Egypt as described in the Old Testament was one with which people in bondage could easily identify themselves."

It's interesting that Jewish people took up an African American slavery song to sing for Passover.

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Sheet Music

Sheet Music - Go Down Moses

Thanks and Acknowledgements

Thanks to Susan and Lenny Pomerantz for contributing this song!

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