Published in 32 hymnals

Printable scores: PDF, MusicXML
Audio files: MIDI, Recording

Tune Information

Meter: Irregular with refrain
Incipit: 53322 33155 771
Key: g minor
Source: African American spiritual
Copyright: Public Domain


Go Down, Moses

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

Go to text page...


The spiritual is in the call-and-response pattern: a leader sings the verses with some rhythmic freedom, either unaccompanied or with only light accompaniment; the entire congregation sings the phrases "Let my people go!" and the refrain, probably in harmony. That practice fits well for stanzas 1-4, but the entire group should sing all of stanza 5. The harmonization by John W. Work, Jr. (b. Nashville, TN, 1872; d. Nashville, 1925), was originally published in The Story of the Jubilee Singers (1896). Work is well known for his pioneering studies of African American folk music and for his leadership in the performance of spirituals. He studied music at Fisk University in Nashville and classics at Harvard and then taught Latin, Greek, and history at Fisk from 1898 to 1923. Director of the Jubilee Singers at Fisk, Work also sang tenor in the Fisk Jubilee Quartet, which toured the country after 1909 and made commercial recordings. He was president of Roger Williams University in Nashville during the last two years of his life. Work and his brother Frederick Jerome Work (1879-1942) were devoted to collecting, arranging, and publishing African American slave songs and spirituals. They published two collections: New Jubilee Songs as Sung by the Fisk Jubilee Singers (1901) and Folk Songs of the American Negro (1907). --Psalter Hymnal Handbook, 1987


The Cyber Hymnal #7404
Text: When Israel Was in Egypt's Land
  • Adobe Acrobat image (PDF)
  • Noteworthy Composer score (NWC)
  • XML score (XML)
Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #476
Text: When Israel Was in Egypt's Land
  • Bulletin Score (melody only) (PDF)
  • Full Score (PDF, XML)
  • Bulletin Score (PDF)
Worship and Rejoice #618
Text: Go Down, Moses


Instances (1 - 28 of 28)Text InfoTune InfoTextScoreFlexScoreAudioPage Scan
African American Heritage Hymnal #543TextPage Scan
Chalice Hymnal #663Text
Gather Comprehensive #715TextPage Scan
Glory to God: the Presbyterian Hymnal #52Text InfoTextAudio
Hymnal 1982: according to the use of the Episcopal Church #648Text
Hymnal Supplement 98 #825TextPage Scan
Hymnal: A Worship Book #164
Hymns for a Pilgrim People: a congregational hymnal #453Text
Lead Me, Guide Me (2nd ed.) #650Text
Lift Every Voice and Sing II: an African American hymnal #228Text
Lift Up Your Hearts: psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs #42TextFlexscoreAudioPage Scan
Oramos Cantando = We Pray In Song #488
Presbyterian Hymnal: hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs #334Text
Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #476Text InfoTune InfoTextScoreFlexscoreAudioPage Scan
Sing With Me #71Text
Songs for Life #103Text
The Covenant Hymnal: a worshipbook #119
The Cyber Hymnal #7404TextScoreAudio
The New Century Hymnal #572TextPage Scan
The New National Baptist Hymnal #499
The United Methodist Hymnal #448TextAudio
This Far By Faith: an African American resource for worship #87TextPage Scan
Timeless Truths #89Text
With One Voice #670TextPage Scan
Worship (3rd ed.) #508TextPage Scan
Worship (4th ed.) #579
Worship and Rejoice #618TextScoreAudioPage Scan
Worship in Song: A Friends Hymnal #294
Include 4 pre-1979 instances
Suggestions or corrections? Contact us