Kum Ba Yah

By Jerry Rich, Director of Music

Although the origins of this popular call for peace (see #494 in our Hymnal) are unclear, recent research confirms that Kum Ba Yah was probably first sung by members of the Gullah-Geechee community, whose ancestors from West Africa resettled on Georgia’s Sea Islands and along the 1,200-mile coastal corridor between North Carolina’s Pender County and Florida’s St. Johns County. Singers on the earliest known recording (deposited with the Library of Congress in 1926) were actually singing “Come By Here,” but the Gullah’s Creole accent made it sound to many like “kum ba yah.” After folk singers Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, and Peter, Paul, & Mary recorded it during the 1960’s Folk Revival and sang it in Civil Rights rallies, it also became standard sing-along fare for Scouting jamborees and summer campfires. In the 1990’s it became fashionable to cynically dismiss attempts to bring people together as “kum ba yah moments,” but now that this noble melody has been selected as the state of Georgia’s official “State Historical Song,” perhaps Kum Ba Yah’s star is once more on the ascent.


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Trinity United Methodist Church is located in McLean, VA. Our weekly worship services are on Sundays at 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. and on Wednesdays at noon. Sunday School is at 9:30 a.m. for children and adults. Children up to 6th grade are also invited to Children's Education during the 10:30 service. Adult Bible Study also occurs on Mondays at 10 a.m. and Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. Please visit our website for more information.

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