Shoutin' in Jerusalem

"The Banjo Lesson"
Henry Ossowa Tanner, 1898

This is one of those great spirituals from the slave times. It is often speculated that the songs were encoded messages. Were they really singing about the after-life or about liberation in this life? "Keep your lamps trimmed and burnin'" we're going to "Steal Away" then we'll "shout in Jerusalem - just like John."

Whether they speak of this life or a life to come they still ring out with the assurance of spiritual and physical liberation that has given hope and inspiration for generations.

If you like my version you will love Mike Seeger’s recording on his ‘True Vine’ album. He plays it with a real gourd banjo.


I wanna be ready
I wanna be ready
I wanna be ready oh Lord
Shoutin’ in Jerusalem just like Jon.

Wanna get to heaven let me tell you how.
Just place your hand on the gospel plow.

I wanna . . .

Never been to heaven but I been told so
The streets all silver and the gates all gold.

I wanna . . .

Went down the hill fell on my knees to pray
Met ole Satan on my way
Let me tell you what Satan said
Go back young man your too young to pray.
Paid him no mind went on my way
Old Satan never taught one soul to pray.

I wanna . . .

Satan‘s mad and I am glad
Missed my soul that he thought he had

I wanna . . .

Look over yonder and what do I see
Four arch-angels coming after me.

I wanna . . .

When I get to heaven gonna sing and shout
Nobody up there would put me out.

I wanna . . .



I like the banjo, your sound and your singing better than True Vine. Sorry Mike.