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The Meaning Behind The Song: Children Go Where I Send Thee by Ricky Skaggs

The Meaning Behind The Song: Children Go Where I Send Thee by Ricky Skaggs

Ricky Skaggs is a renowned American country and bluegrass musician, singer, and songwriter. He has been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame. Skaggs is known for his unique and powerful voice, his mastery of several musical instruments, and his ability to blend traditional and modern sounds in his music. In this article, we will take a closer look at one of Skaggs’ most popular songs, “Children Go Where I Send Thee,” and explore the meaning behind the lyrics.

What is “Children Go Where I Send Thee?”

“Children Go Where I Send Thee” is a traditional African-American spiritual that dates back to the era of slavery in the United States. The exact origins and author of the song are unknown, but it is believed to have been sung by enslaved people as a religious and cultural expression of their faith and struggle for freedom. The song was passed down through generations of black folk communities and eventually became popularized among white audiences through various folk and gospel recordings.

What Are the Lyrics of “Children Go Where I Send Thee?”

The lyrics of “Children Go Where I Send Thee” consist of a cumulative, repetitive structure that adds new elements to the narrative with each verse. The song starts with the following lines:

“Children, go where I send thee,
How shall I send thee?
I’m gonna send thee one by one
One for the little bitty baby
Born, born, born in Bethlehem.”

The subsequent verses add further instructions and reference to various biblical characters and events, such as “two by two” for Adam and Eve, “three by three” for the Holy Trinity, “four by four” for the four Evangelists, and so on. The final verse concludes with the following:

“Ten for the ten commandments,
Nine for the nine that stood in a line,
Eight for the eight that stood at the gate,
Seven for the seven that climbed up to heaven,
Six for the six that couldn’t get fixed,
Five for the gospel preachers,
Four for the four that stood at the door,
Three for the Hebrew children,
Two for Paul and Silas,
one for the little bitty baby
born, born, born in Bethlehem.”

The repetitive structure and rhythms of the song are meant to be catchy and easy to sing along, making it a popular tune for group singing and religious worship.

What is the Meaning Behind “Children Go Where I Send Thee”?

The central theme of “Children Go Where I Send Thee” is the idea of obedience and faithfulness to God’s will. The song portrays God as the sender and the children as the messengers or instruments of his divine plan. Each verse represents a different aspect of God’s creation, salvation, and redemption, and emphasizes the importance of following God’s commandments, teachings, and examples. The repeated phrasing of “How shall I send thee?” suggests that the children have a choice and a responsibility to respond to God’s call and follow his path. The final verse, which mentions various biblical figures and events, reinforces the idea of continuity, tradition, and community in faith.

What Does Ricky Skaggs’ Version of “Children Go Where I Send Thee” Bring to the Song?

Ricky Skaggs’ version of “Children Go Where I Send Thee” is a modern adaptation of the traditional spiritual that incorporates elements of country, bluegrass, and gospel music. Skaggs’ vocal performance and instrumentation bring a sense of energy, enthusiasm, and joy to the song, while retaining its spiritual and historical significance. Skaggs’ arrangement also features guest vocalists such as James Taylor, Vince Gill, and the Whites, who add their own personal touches to the song and highlight the diversity and universality of its message.

What is the Historical and Cultural Significance of “Children Go Where I Send Thee?”

“Children Go Where I Send Thee” has a long and rich history as a folk song and as a testimony of African-American culture and spirituality. The song reflects the resilience, creativity, and faith of enslaved people who used music as a means of coping, communicating, and expressing their sense of identity and purpose. The song’s popularity among both black and white audiences also showcases the power of music to bridge cultural, social, and racial divides and to create a common ground for shared experiences and emotions.

What is the Legacy of “Children Go Where I Send Thee?”

“Children Go Where I Send Thee” has been covered, adapted, and sampled by numerous artists in various genres over the years, from gospel singers to rock bands to rap artists. The song’s timeless message of obedience, faith, and community continues to resonate with people of all ages and backgrounds, and its role as a cultural and historical artifact of African-American heritage remains vital and relevant. The song’s popularity and versatility also demonstrate the enduring appeal and influence of traditional folk and gospel music in American culture.

What is the Religious and Spiritual Significance of “Children Go Where I Send Thee?”

“Children Go Where I Send Thee” is a song that celebrates the Christian faith and the narrative of salvation history. The song’s references to various biblical figures and events and its cumulative structure reflect a deep respect for the Bible and its teachings. The song also emphasizes the importance of obedience, humility, and trust in God’s will, and encourages listeners to view themselves as part of a larger community of believers. The song has been used in various religious contexts, including church services, Christmas shows, and spiritual retreats.

What is the Artistic and Musical Significance of “Children Go Where I Send Thee?”

“Children Go Where I Send Thee” is a song that showcases the creativity, versatility, and adaptability of folk and popular music. The song’s repetitive structure and catchy melody make it easy to learn and sing, while its broad thematic scope and historical roots provide ample opportunities for interpretation and adaptation. The song’s use of call-and-response and vocal harmonies also demonstrate the richness and diversity of the musical traditions that have influenced its development over time.

What is the Educational and Cultural Significance of “Children Go Where I Send Thee?”

“Children Go Where I Send Thee” is a song that has been used as an educational and cultural resource for both children and adults. The song’s cumulative structure and repetitive rhythm make it a valuable tool for teaching basic math concepts, such as counting and multiplication, as well as for promoting memory retention and oral tradition. The song’s historical and cultural significance also make it a useful resource for learning about African-American folklore, music, and spirituality, as well as the role of music in social and political movements.

What is the Political and Social Significance of “Children Go Where I Send Thee?”

“Children Go Where I Send Thee” is a song that has been associated with various political and social movements throughout the years. The song’s origins and history as a slave song highlight the role of music in resistance, liberation, and human rights. The song’s popularity and appeal across different racial and cultural groups also demonstrate the power of music to create unity, empathy, and understanding. The song has been used in various contexts to advocate for social justice, civil rights, and intercultural dialogue.

What is the Role of Traditional Music in Contemporary Culture and Music Industry?

Traditional music, such as “Children Go Where I Send Thee,” plays an important role in contemporary culture and the music industry. Traditional music provides a source of inspiration, innovation, and authenticity for modern artists who seek to blend old and new styles, sounds, and messages. Traditional music also offers a platform for cultural and historical preservation, and a means of celebrating diversity, identity, and heritage. The music industry has also recognized the value of traditional music, as evidenced by various awards and recognition programs for folk, world, and roots music, as well as the inclusion of traditional music in several mainstream genres.

How Can We Appreciate and Support Traditional Music and its Artists?

To appreciate and support traditional music and its artists, we can do several things:

  • Learn about the history and cultural significance of traditional music
  • Attend live performances, festivals, and workshops of traditional music
  • Support traditional music artists by purchasing their recordings, merchandise, and concert tickets
  • Spread the word about traditional music through social media, blogs, and other platforms
  • Encourage schools, libraries, and other cultural institutions to include traditional music in their programs and collections
  • Advocate for policies that protect and promote traditional music and its communities, such as funding for cultural heritage preservation and education

By doing these things, we can help ensure that traditional music continues to thrive as a valuable and vibrant cultural and artistic expression.

What Can We Learn from “Children Go Where I Send Thee?”

“Children Go Where I Send Thee” teaches us many lessons, such as the importance of:

  • Obedience and faithfulness to God’s will
  • Community and continuity in faith
  • Creativity and adaptability in music
  • Cultural and historical awareness and appreciation
  • Social and political consciousness and advocacy
  • Unity and empathy across different cultures and religions

By learning from these lessons, we can become better musicians, listeners, and human beings.

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