KUMBAYA

Posted on Posted in Breedloves's Folk Songs
KUMBAYA
“Kumbaya” (also spelled Kum Ba Yah) is a spiritual song from the 1930s. It enjoyed
newfound popularity during the folk revival of the 1960s and became a standard campfire
song in Scouting and other camping organizations. The song was originally associated
with unity and closeness, but more recently is also alluded to sarcastically to connote a
blandly pious and naively optimistic view of the world and human nature. The origins of
the song are disputed. Reverend Marvin V. Frey (1918–1992) claimed to have written the
song in the 1930s under the title “Come By Here”. It first appeared in a collection by
Robert Winslow Gordon in 1936 and in “Revival Choruses of Marvin V. Frey”, a lyric
sheet printed in Portland, Oregon in 1939. The change of the title to “Kum Ba Yah” came
about in 1946, when the song returned from Africa with a missionary family, who toured
America singing the song with the text “Kum Ba Yah”.
There is debate about the truth of Frey’s authorship claim; recent research has found that
sometime between 1922 and 1931, members of an organization called the Society for the
Preservation of Spirituals collected a song from the South Carolina coast. Come By Yuh,
as they called it, was sung in Gullah, the Creole dialect spoken by the former slaves
living on the Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia. In Gullah, “Kumbaya” means
“Come by here”, so the lyric could be translated as “Come by here, my lord, come by
here.
Kumbaya, my Lord, Kumbaya,
Kumbaya, my Lord, Kumbaya,
Kumbaya, my Lord, Kumbaya, oh, Lord, Kumbaya.
Someone`s singing, Lord, Kumbaya,
someone`s singing, Lord, Kumbaya.
Someone`s singing, Lord, Kumbaya, oh Lord, Kumbaya.
Someone`s praying, Lord, Kumbaya,
Someone`s praying, Lord, Kumbaya.
Someone`s praying, Lord, Kumbaya, oh Lord, Kumbaya.
Someone`s crying, Lord, Kumbaya,
someone`s crying, Lord, Kumbaya.
Someone`s crying, Lord, Kumbaya, oh, Lord, Kumbaya.
Someone`s sleeping Lord, Kumbaya,
someone`s sleeping, Lord, Kumbaya.
Someone`s sleeping, Lord, Kumbaya, oh, Lord, Kumbaya