Down by the Riverside

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Spirituals and Slave Songs


Down by the Riverside Lyrics

The words and lyrics of this African American Spiritual begin with "I'm gonna lay down heavy load, down by the riverside" as the first line of the song. The words, tune and lyrics of the "Down by the Riverside" song were passed on verbally and the names of the author and composer are therefore unknown.

Down by the Riverside Song Meaning and History
The history of the "Down by the Riverside" song lyrics date back to the American Civil War era (1861 - 1865). Meaning: The song was sung by slaves as a reference to the Civil War and a yearning for peace. The lyrics "ain't gonna study war no more" is a Biblical reference in Isaiah 2:4 and Micah 4:3 of the Old Testament: "nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." The reference the riverside is a veiled message about the Ohio River and its comparison by slaves to the "River Jordan" which was the dividing line between slavery in the slave states and freedom in the non-slave states. The lyrics "I'm gonna put on my traveling shoes" reflect the slave's yearning for freedom in a slave-free state. We have placed "Down by the Riverside" in the category of African American Spirituals, aka Negro Spirituals and Slave Songs.

Down by the Riverside Song
Title: Down by the Riverside *** Name of Composer: Unknown *** Name Author / Writer of Lyrics: Unknown *** Category: Slave Songs aka African American Spirituals or Negro Spirituals

 

 

Information about the Song
Title of Song: Down by the Riverside
Author of Lyrics: Unknown
Nationality of Author: African American

Name of Music Composer: Unknown
Song Category: Slave Songs aka African American Spirituals or Negro Spirituals
First Line of Song: "I'm gonna lay down heavy load, down by the riverside"
First Publication Date: 1918 in Plantation Melodies: A Collection of Modern, Popular and Old-time Negro-Songs of the Southland

 

Down by the Riverside Lyrics

I'm gonna lay down heavy load,
down by the riverside,
down by the riverside, down by the riverside

I'm gonna lay down heavy load, down by the riverside and I ain't a gonna study war no more

I ain't gonna study war no more, I ain't gonna study war no more, I ain't gonna study war no more
I ain't gonna study war no more, I ain't gonna study war no more, I ain't gonna study war no more

I'm gonna lay down my sword and shield, down by the riverside
Down by the riverside, down by the riverside
I'm gonna lay down my sword and shield, down by the riverside
And I ain't gonna study war no more

I ain't gonna study war no more, I ain't gonna study war no more, I ain't gonna study war no more
I ain't gonna study war no more, I ain't gonna study war no more, I ain't gonna study war no more

I'm gonna put on my traveling shoes, down by the riverside
Down by the riverside, down by the riverside
I'm gonna put on my traveling shoes, down by the riverside
And I ain't gonna study war no more

I ain't gonna study war no more, I ain't gonna study war no more, I ain't gonna study war no more
I ain't gonna study war no more, I ain't gonna study war no more, I ain't gonna study war no more

I'm gonna put on my long white robe, down by the riverside
Down by the riverside, down by the riverside
I'm gonna put on my long white robe, down by the riverside
And I ain't gonna study war no more

I ain't gonna study war no more, I ain't gonna study war no more, I ain't gonna study war no more
I ain't gonna study war no more, I ain't gonna study war no more, I ain't gonna study war no more

Iím gonna put on my starry crown, down by the riverside
Down by the riverside, down by the riverside
Iím gonna put on my starry crown, down by the riverside
And I ainít gonna study war no more

I ain't gonna study war no more, I ain't gonna study war no more, I ain't gonna study war no more
I ain't gonna study war no more, I ain't gonna study war no more, I ain't gonna study war no more
 

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