I always understood that kumbaya was UK Yorkshure dialect “come by here” whichis expressed orally as “come by yere” and had nothing to do with pidgin unless the interpreter came from Lancashire.
It’s always helpful to provide a link to the column referenced … the entire link is more useful.
dear lord …
I asked Joe Hickerson, former head of the Library of Congress Folk Music collection, about this. He is also a member of the Folksmith group mentioned in your collumn. In the following discussion Stephanie Hall posted this link to a 2010 article that updates and clarifies the origin of the song.
What on Earth makes you think that? I am not a Yorkshireman, but I lived in Yorkshire for many years, and I think it is hugely implausible. Furthermore, none of the rest of the lyrics seem to be in anything remotely resembling Yorkshire dialect.
Thanks for the info, barbmillikin, I’ll be sure Cecil sees it to see if he’s interested in an update.
And welcome to the Straight Dope Message Boards! I’m assuming you’re the wonderful Snopes, and we’re delighted to have you participate here!
Surely you jest–the Snopes?
And I won’t call you that in the future.
barbmillikan, nice article. It states that the evidence suggests it originated in the southern US as an African American spiritual with the name “Come By Here”, but was adopted and adapted by gullah speakers as it spread as a folk spiritual song, and the version “Kum ba yah” (or Kumbaya) derived thusly. For some reason, that version became more popular over time.
The article suggests the Angola connection is not justified, but is an old myth originating around the same timeframe.
My apologies, the Snopes author/owner is Barb Mikkelson, I got confused.
Great article, Thanks Barb!
Throughout my life as a musician, scout, and scout leader, I admit I have performed Kumbaya thousands of times and have heard most of these theories. While not definitively, it the the best history of the song’s origin I have read.
Love the shout out to one of my earliest musical influences Tony Saletan!