Friday, June 23Exploring The Black Presence In The Bible

Kum-Ba-Yah: Did Black Slaves Sing Songs In Hebrew?


"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge..." - Hosea 4:6

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Many of us have heard and even sang Kumbaya at some point in our lives, but most people aren’t aware of the origin of the song or the meaning of the words. When I was in elementary school, we were told that it meant “come by here”, and that’s what myself and many others have believed for a long time. Here is a break down of the words in Hebrew.

  • Kum (Qum): Strong’s #6965 – Stand up, arise
  • Ba: Doesn’t have any meaning alone in Hebrew, but may be an abbreviation for Abba, which means “father” (unconfirmed).
  • Yah: Strong’s #3050 – This word is translated as LORD in scripture when referring to the God of Israel.

Loosely translated, the lyrics seems to mean “arise father God” and NOT “come by here” as we’ve been told. This song seems to be a remnant of the Hebrew language that was stripped from the slaves. It also serves as circumstantial evidence that slaves most likely spoke Hebrew when they arrived in America, and managed to preserve at least some of the language through song. It is literally by the grace of God that this song survives along with it’s origin story.



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The History of The Song

According to history, the song was first recorded in the early 1920s. However, it is believed to have originated with Southern Slaves and is believed to have been sang in Gullah. Gullah is a language that was spoken by slaves that inhabited North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Here are the words to the song:

The Words of Kumbaya
Kumbaya my Lord, kumbaya
Kumbaya my Lord, kumbaya
Kumbaya my Lord, kumbaya
Oh Lord, kumbaya
Someone’s singing Lord, kumbaya
Someone’s singing Lord, kumbaya
Someone’s singing Lord, kumbaya
Oh Lord, kumbaya
Someone’s laughing, Lord, kumbaya
Someone’s laughing, Lord, kumbaya
Someone’s laughing, Lord, kumbaya
Oh Lord, kumbaya
Someone’s crying, Lord, kumbaya
Someone’s crying, Lord, kumbaya
Someone’s crying, Lord, kumbaya
Oh Lord, kumbaya
Someone’s praying, Lord, kumbaya
Someone’s praying, Lord, kumbaya
Someone’s praying, Lord, kumbaya
Oh Lord, kumbaya
Someone’s sleeping, Lord, kumbaya
Someone’s sleeping, Lord, kumbaya
Someone’s sleeping, Lord, kumbaya
Oh Lord, kumbaya
Oh Lord, kumbaya

Do You Know Any Other Songs?

If you know of any other slave songs that sound Hebrew, please share. We can use as much evidence as we can get. People are waking up daily, and it never hearts to have more knowledge on the subject.




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One Comment

  • lscott

    I’ve been knowing about this song for about 25 or 30 yrs.
    Told to me by my Parents. If my people would pick up OUR HISTORY BOOK ( THE HOLY SCRIPTURES) and ask ABBA YAH to give the Understanding of it, They will be surprised of what Valuable info is within the Manuscript. SELAH & SHALOM

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