Were You There, When They Crucified My Lord?

“Were You There (When They Crucified My Lord)” is an American spiritual that was first printed in 1899.  “Were You There” was likely composed by African-American slaves in the 19th century. It was first published in William Eleazar Barton’s 1899 Old Plantation Hymns. In 1940, it was included in the Episcopal Church hymnal, making it the first spiritual to be included in any major American hymnal. As reported in Howard Thurman’s autobiography, the song was one of Mahatma Gandhi’s favorites. The song has been recorded by artists including Marion Williams, Johnny Cash, Phil Keaggy, Max Roach, Diamanda Galás, Harry Belafonte, The Seldom Scene, Diamond Version (with Neil Tennant), Bayard Rustin, and Rajaton.

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