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2020-05-14 Go Down, Moses

The story of Exodus provided light for one of the darkest corners of American history – slavery. From the years when slaves were held captives in the South, through the time of abolition, and on to the ongoing struggle for civil rights, the Exodus story has provided inspiration, metaphor, and support to African Americans in their struggle for freedom.  Just as the Hebrews who were slaves in Egypt escaped with God’s help, and just as they eventually crossed the river Jordan into the Promised Land, so the African American slaves eventually were freed and have slowly struggled for civil rights. 

Cullin Schippe and Chuck Stetson: The Bible and Its Influence, BLP Publishing, 2006.

Then the Lord told him, “I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own fertile and spacious land. It is a land flowing with milk and honey—the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live. Look! The cry of the people of Israel has reached me, and I have seen how harshly the Egyptians abuse them. 10 Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt.”

Exodus 3: 7-10 (NLT)

At one time, “Go Down, Moses” had as many as 25 stanzas!!  Although most versions today have narrowed it down to five or six verses, even those are quite fluid – the verses included and their wording all depend on the songbook used. 

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

Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt's land, 
tell old Pharaoh: Let my people go. 

The Lord told Moses what to do, 
Let my people go, 
to lead the Hebrew children through, 
Let my people go. 

As Israel stood by the waterside, 
Let my people go, 
at God's command it did divide, 
Let my people go. 

When they had reached the other shore, 
Let my people go, 
they let the song of triumph soar, 
Let my people go. 

Lord, help us all from bondage flee, 
Let my people go, 
and let us all in Christ be free, 
Let my people go.

 
*Devotion and music provided by Jane Cockrell

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