Thursday, April 16, 2009

"My home is over Jordan . . ."

Sorry the visuals aren't better for this, but the song is the point. It's the Negro spiritual "Deep River," which may actually be a "pseudo-spiritual" art song by Dvorak's African-American pupil Harry Thacker Burleigh. Burleigh is credited on the sheet music as the arranger of the piece's piano-vocal setting, but recent scholarship suggests that he may have written it and disguised his handiwork -- which is marvelous -- as an old folk melody.

The late mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson used to sing the piece as a recital encore. Her interpretation is somewhat square, and yet, at the same time, nothing could be more heartfelt.

The song is about the longing for a holy death. The lyrics:

Deep river, my home is over Jordan,
Deep river, Lord,
I want to cross over into campground.
Oh, don't you want to go
To that gospel feast,
That promised land
Where all is peace?
Oh, deep river,
I want to cross over into campground.


Sheila said...

We used to sing this often in my college chorus. Thanks for helping a happy memory resurface.

Pentimento said...

Isn't it fantastic?

LHL sang it pretty white, but it will still break your heart.