“We shall overcome – deep in my heart I do believe we shall overcome.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.
Abe Lincoln was known to say something along the lines of: books serve to show man how unoriginal his thoughts are… “The song “We Shall Overcome” suffers “copyright confusion” a little akin to what Lincoln says, with roots in Cincinnati, Ohio according to THIS source and yet SongFacts says differently HERE.
The PBS American Masters program on Woody Guthrie describes the evolution of many songs Woody did as relating to what he heard in the camps he was visiting during difficult times. So how much of Woody’s tunes and lyrics are truly his own is perhaps a bit contentious? Yet we can celebrate the beauty of the music and how it transforms us to those times.
While not knowing Charles Tindley nor Louise Shropshire nor Pete Seeger, my guess is that the important thing to them is that this song endures with some of the principal musical and lyrical messages they wanted to share. The fact that the civil rights movement could use it effectively and many others now have this in the public domain for use whenever they wish would probably please all three!
PRAYER: Dear God, as we go throughout our days, may we worry less of credit, and focus more on praise! Amen. [Is this prayer a Christian Playbook original or do we need to give credit elsewhere? 🙂 ]
ACTION: Listen to these songs one right after the other to hear the similarities
- I’ll Overcome Someday – Charles Tindley version
- If My Jesus Wills – Louise Shropshire version
- We Shall Overcome – this is a 1967 version by Pete Seeger in Berlin with a rather heart-catching additional verse about Montgomery Alabama and “We are Not Afraid TODAY!”
How can you help another overcome this day?
Enjoy the day, filled with the Spirit!
“BONUS FEATURE” – check out THIS 8 minute video that includes more background on If My Jesus Wills and includes a wonderful performance of “If My Jesus Wills/We Shall Overcome” arrangement by Berens and performed by the Classical Roots Community Mass Choir, Greater Cincinnati Indian Community Choir, and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra led by conductor John Morris Russell.