Smithsonian

Lines from "Go Down, Moses"

Go down, Moses
’Way down in Egypt land,
Tell ole Pharaoh,
To let my people go.
Go down, Moses
’Way down in Egypt land,
Tell ole Pharaoh
To let my people go.

When Israel was in Egypt’s land:
Let my people go,
Oppressed so hard they could not stand,
Let my people go.
“When spoke the Lord,”
bold Moses said;
Let my people go
If not I’ll smite your first born dead
Let my people go.

African American spiritual, pre–Civil War