Go Tell It on the Mountain: Day 3

Go Tell It on the Mountain


Today's Text: Isaiah 12:5-6, Isaiah 18:3, Isaiah 42:10-12, Matthew 28:19-20, Luke 2:8-20

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 12:5-6, Isaiah 18:3, Isaiah 42:10-12, Matthew 28:19-20, Luke 2:8-20

John Wesley Work, Jr. was a Nashville man, through and through.

He attended Fisk University where his father taught, and he majored in history and Latin. He stayed on there as a professor, eventually becoming chair of his department and then president of a nearby university. Once the man put himself on a path, he didn’t budge.

Teaching paid the bills, but John’s joyful pursuit was discovering and preserving African American spiritual music. He led the Fisk Jubilee Singers for six years, touring at home and abroad. The Nashville boy got to see the world and share the art of the African American spiritual along the way. In a time when few black men were afforded the luxury of travel, John Jr. performed for Queen Victoria.

It took three generations of Works men over 70 years of field research, transcription, and publishing to put together a wide collection of African American spirituals which otherwise could have been lost to history. It was in this collection that John Jr. became the first to publish the hymn “Go Tell It on the Mountain.” 

This hymn, like other spirituals of the era, had previously been communicated through singing only. Putting the tune and lyrics down on paper was a way John could give voice to the unknown slave who had composed the song many years before—who, despite his earthly enslavement, sang out with victorious hope. 

“Go Tell It on the Mountain” celebrates the good news of the God who makes Himself known to His people, right where they are.

Go Tell It on the Mountain
Adapted by John W. Work

Go, tell it on the mountain,
over the hills and everywhere;
go, tell it on the mountain
that Jesus Christ is born.

While shepherds kept their watching
o’er silent flocks by night,
behold, throughout the heavens
there shone a holy light.

The shepherds feared and trembled
when lo! above the earth
rang out the angel chorus
that hailed our Savior‘s birth.

Down in a lowly stable
the humble Christ was born,
and God sent us salvation
that blessed Christmas morn.



Hustad, Donald P., and George H. Shorney. Dictionary-handbook to hymns for the living Church. The history of Hope Publishing Company and its divisions and affiliates / George H. Shorney. Carol Stream, IL: Hope Publ. Co., 1978.

Work, John Wesley, The Folk Songs of the American Negro. 1931.

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  • Casandra Gurau

    I love this hymn and honestly seeing God working on my prayers I just wanted to call everyone I possibly could to tell them! I felt like shouting it on the mountain myself today! Hearing the story behind the hymn honestly made me love it so much more!

  • Atalie Jones

    I am loving this study of old hymnals! Thank You, Father, for sending us Your Son and Your salvation on that blessed Christmas morn!! Help me to not take advantage of Your grace. Help me to go tell Your story on whatever mountain you place in front of me today.

  • Rachael

    it makes each song mean so much more knowing the origins and soul behind it!

  • Deanne Hoff

    Anything is possible, as long as Jesus is the center and most importantly we stay the course. Intention, is key. Without true desire dreams are just things we think about and pretend one they will come true. Power, things of divine excellence must be centered on the true strength of Jesus Christ. Eternal value must be in the mix, or our labors are in vain. Lastly, let all things be done in Love for Love is the oil that lights out lamp and continues to reveal our divine destiny, daily.

  • Why did you guys take away the Scripture links on the website? Bring them back! Please!

  • Justina G

    I agree Lana, if he was white he most certainly would not have been called a boy

    • Julie

      Maybe that is a regional thing. Even though I am much older, someone might say “The North Carolina girl” about me because I was born and raised in North Carolina. In this case, it is just giving a nod to where you are from. Hope this helps – Blessings!

  • Was he a boy when he started touring internationally? A bit confused about that part. If he was an adult, I think he should be called a man, rather than a boy. It’s a little insulting to such a wonderful legacy. Was not aware of his background. Thoroughly enjoyed reading about it!

    • Rc

      My daddy was from the south,he would call his family and friends children no matter how old”Lillian boy(I would say daddy he is not a boy,his reply he always be in my eyes),for daddy is
      was a type of endearment.
      Love hearing from y’all blessing

    • Lana

      My family is also from the south and the word boy was/is a way to subjugate black folk. Historical context is important! Still expecting more from SRT. Still expecting for them to call some of these other authors “boys” but have yet to see it.

      • nikki

        I totally agree who wrote this piece ? I love SRT and am also expecting more very sad

        • Michelle

          This is a common regional term where I live (SC) and it is not usually considered insulting on its face. I expect the author did not consider the historical connotation and was viewing it from the colloquial perspective.

  • When we have the revelation of God and know his glorious deeds, can we help but sing to him and about him? Can we help but want him to be known throughout the earth?

    How convicting that a person trapped in slavery was so consumed with God despite their earthly circumstances but I forget about him all the time in my cushy life.

  • Emily B.

    This hymn made me think of a line from “All the Poor and Powerless” by All Sons and Daughters: https://youtu.be/C9eInW1gdS8

    • Ashley BB

      One of my personal favorites!

    • Mean

      Shout it! Go on and scream it from the mountains! Go on and tell it to the masses, that He is God!! Amen and Amen and Amen and Amen!

  • Ashley BB

    This song of incredible joy and freedom was born out of physical slavery. When I feel enslaved what is my response? Could I fill my mouth with praise and thanksgiving? Not only is this hymn a beautiful reminder of a fulfilled promise and the arrival of our Savior, it is an active choice to praise God in the midst of earthly enslavement.

    A beautiful response to painful circumstance.

  • Just like the shepherds I am also invited to come and be with Jesus. Praying my daily response would be as that of the shepherds, running to be with Him, telling others about Him and praising my Savior all the day long.

  • I knew this song my whole lifetime, and it always made me think of happy and joyous things, like our Savior being born! So encouraging!

  • Shawnda

    I can just imagine hearing this in it’s original environment; even though they were bound in slavery they were lifting up a joyful praise rejoicing that our Savior was born. I hope that in my daily walk I can lift up a shout of praise and Go tell it on my mountain that Jesus Christ was born and is my Savior.

  • When I saw that this sone was included in this study, I’ll be honest: I rolled my eyes. I love Christmas music, but only at Christmas. Misplaced Christmas music really annoys me. But I just sat and listened to this and with the information about it being an old spiritual, was struck by the fact that Jesus’ birth isn’t “a Christmas story”- it’s a begin-the-redeption story. It’s a story for mid-July and meditating on the miracle and gift of his birth isn’t a December-only thing. In fact, thinking about it out of the context of a holiday seems like a really beautiful thing. He as born for us to celebrate grandly, sure, but also for us to pause on daily, for us to sit in awe of all the time. So good to put aside “it’s to the time for this,” and be thankful right now, today, always.

    • GramsieSue

      Yes!!!! Such a great message! To be able to think about this message outside all the trappings of the holiday season and be thankful and joyful here and now! It’s not a December only thing! Such a blessing this morning ❤️

    • Heather N (MNmomma)


  • How beautiful it was to learn the history of “Go Tell It on the Mountain” today. Thanks for this wonderful praise & study this morning @SheReadsTruth

  • Jackie Diamond

    Love learning the history behind these hymns!

  • Love this hymn! You can always feel the joy bursting from everyone’s hearts as they sing this

  • Sing to the Lord…cry out and sing…Look…Listen…sing a new song…shout…sing for joy…give glory to the Lord…GO…Tell…
    All of these phrases jumped out at me this morning. We have the best news in the world; “God sent us salvation that blessed Christmas morn.” Every day and every moment I need to be singing, shouting, and crying out from the mountain tops that Jesus is alive and He is loose in the world. What an awesome responsiblity God has given us. Go and tell.
    Have a blessed day, sisters.

  • Karen From Virginia

    Thank you to those who have prayed for my sister and me. I know the Lord is with her. He is our strength. She has surgery today to close up the wound. Praying for success, no more infection and peace &deep comfort from Jesus.

  • Karen From Virginia


  • Elisabeth7291

    I love reading this Christmas message in July. It is a refreshing and simple and powerful without the clutter of other holiday distractions.

  • churchmouse

    “Go Tell It on the Mountain” bottom lines the Gospel: “God sent us salvation…” Amen! Now, go tell!

  • What a powerful hymn!

  • I grew up singing this song in church. The Lord is with me always, in every aspect of my life. I had a very tiring day but this devotional has given me great hope for tomorrow!

    • Susan

      I did as well and never heard the history of it. I always loved it as a child because it was sang with a little bounce to everyone’s step. And now, it is even more special hearing the history…the original writer being bond in slavery and still, still seeking joy through his Savior and wanting to spread the joy. I love this.

  • This is a favourite of mine… only I, did not know the other verses… A great telling of the Christmas story in song..

    But also a song of great commissioning… ‘Go, tell it on the mountain..’ stand tall, stand high, so all can hear, the Saviour of the world is born… over the hills and everywhere, bring the Good News to the people, let them know, oh let them know, they have a Savior, and His name is Jesus Christ…

    Off to tell of my/our Savior, in my words, deeds and actions today…
    He is born. He is alive in me and I will sing of His great love and saving grace..
    Thank you Jesus.. .Thank you…. Amen

    Sending love and hugs to all… HAPPY today Sisters.. with Blessings.. xxx

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