We are climbing Jacob’s ladder,We are climbing Jacob’s ladder,We are climbing Jacob’s ladder, Soldiers of the cross. Every round goes higher, higher, Every round goes higher, higher, Every round goes higher, higher, Soldiers of the cross.Do you think I will make a SoldierDo you think I will make a SoldierDo you think I will make a Soldier Soldiers of the cross.Rise shine give God the Glory GloryRise shine give God the Glory Glory Rise shine give God the Glory Glory Soldiers of the crossKeep on climbing we will make itKeep on climbing we will make itKeep on climbing we will make it Soldiers of the cross.We are climbing Jacob’s ladder,We are climbing Jacob’s ladder,We are climbing Jacob’s ladder, Soldiers of the cross.Children do you want your freedom,Children do you want your freedom,,Children do you want your freedom,,Soldiers of the cross.
Westampton Memorial American Legion Post 509
Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon “ We are climbing Jacob's Ladder “
This African-American spiritual has become widely known for its use as a gospel hymn and popular song of worship. I was first exposed to this recording watching the landmark documentary The Civil War by Ken Burns. His treatment of the issue of slavery during the ante-bellum South and the Civil War featured this song as one of the themes.Its beautiful melody is exquisitely captured in this a cappella rendition: a format that is true to its roots as a song sung by slaves during the long hours of labor. I find this piece extremely powerful and moving; the lyrics reflect the spiritual reverence for God and the hope for salvation, freedom, and happiness that imbues the song with an energy that permeates through the entire piece, ultimately culminating in a melancholy yet faithful climax. The refrain of “soldiers of the cross” is a reminder of both the devotion to God and the devotion to fight for freedom that is at the heart of many African-American spirituals from the period of the Civil War. Bernice Johnson Reagon, and her a cappella group have created a gem.It is humbling and restorative to receive recognition for work that is your passion – work that comes as breath. We live in a compartmentalized society and in order to evidence existence, one has to have more than a name to show worthiness. We not only need to name what we do but are asked to identify the organizational unit under which that work is done. Being a cultural historian, singer, composer, producer, teacher, writer, activist... really too much to compute. Imagine my surprise when I began to get awards that collected my offerings across three institutions into one sentence as work worthy of support. I remember being warmed by the notion of “making sense as a unified whole” to more than myself