SPIRITUALS VS. FREEDOM SONGS

The African American Spiritual ‘Keep Your Hands On The Plow’, was transformed into an American freedom song during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950’s & 1960’s. The name of the song became known as “Keep Your Eyes On The Prize”, and the lyrics changed to reflect the times. The melody stayed the same and the principle purpose of the song stayed the same, which was to stay focused on the issue at hand. In the 1950’s and 1960’s the issue at hand was the freedom to have the same human and civil rights as every man in America, no matter the color of your skin or ethnicity. The lyrics to this Civil Rights song have often been accredited to Alice Wine, although we have no proof of that fact. In any case the lyrics are heartfelt and powerful. And once again the transformation of a spiritual into a modern day music, served the same purpose. Through the musical arts, people have found ways of finding freedom, justice, human and civil rights for all mankind in a format that reaches for your soul. In doing so it allowed unrepresented voices to be heard in a time when they didn’t have a voice. My own personal favorite rendition of this freedom song is by Mavis Staples.

Spiritual song lyrics:
KEEP YOUR HANDS ON THE PLOW

Hold on
Hold on
Keep your hand on the plow, hold on

Heard the voice of Jesus say
Come unto me , I am the way
Keep your hand on the plow, hold on
When my way gets dark as night,
I know the lord will be my light,
Keep your hand on the plow, hold on

Hold on
Hold on
Keep your hand on the plow, hold on

You can talk about me much as you please
the more you talk, gonna stay on my knees
Keep your hand on the plow, hold on

Hold on
Hold on
Keep your hand on the plow, hold on

When I get to heaven, gonna sing and shout
Be nobody there to put me out
Keep your hand on the plow, hold on
I know my robe’s gonna fit me well,
I tried it on at the gates of Hell
Keep your hand on the plow, hold on,
Hold on, hold on,
Keep your hand on the plow, hold on

Freedom song lyrics:

KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE PRIZE

Paul and Silas, bound in jail
Had no money for to go their bail
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on
Hold on, (hold on), hold on, (hold on)
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on!
Hold on, (hold on), hold on, (hold on)
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on!

Paul and Silas began to shout
Doors popped open, and they walked out
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on
Hold on, (hold on), hold on, (hold on)
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on!

Well, the only chains that we can stand
Are the chains of hand in hand
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on
Got my hand on the freedom plow
Wouldn’t take nothing for my journey now
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on!
Hold on, (hold on), hold on, (hold on)
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on!
Hold on, (hold on), hold on, (hold on)
Keep your Eyes on the Prize, hold on!

Hold on, (hold on), hold on, (hold on)
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on!
Hold on, (hold on), hold on, (hold on)
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on!
(Hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on)
(Hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on)

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