Down to the River to Pray Southern Gospel on Piano

To learn how to play Down to the River, watch the video at bottom of page.

Down to the River to Pray is considered an authentic American folk hymn.  One of it’s earliest known publications is the Southern harmony Hymnal in the 1800s.  Originally written as “The Good Old Way”, and attributed to G. H. Allan in a song book from 1867.  For a more in-depth article on the origin of Down to the River, check out  They’ve written a very nice page on the subject.

In spite of it’s long-standing history, Down to the River didn’t catch mainstream attention until “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” came out in 2000.  I have to admit to NOT being a George Clooney fan until he starred in O Brother.  O Brother partially salvaged him in my eyes.  I won’t say completely, because I still haven’t forgiven him for Batman and Robin.  But at least I don’t hate him.  :^D

And credit where credit is due- he stood up and took responsibility.  When asked if he’d be willing to play Batman again, after the disastrous reviews on Batman and Robin, Clooney emphatically answered yes. Just because he know how bad it was, and out of a desire to prove he could do better.  After that, I’m willing to give him a chance on a movie by movie basis.

Got a bit off course there; in O Brother Where Art Thou, the entire sound track was a winner.  If I was still playing record albums, I’ve have worn out the needle on that sound track.  Over time, my interest faded away until I haven’t listened to, or even thought of, the wonderful music from that quirky film.  Then a friend whimsically asked me to play Down To The River as a request.  I told her it’s now on my ‘to do’ song list, but since I’m an extreme prevaricator it might take me a while to get done.

Fortunately, in drawing my attention to the song, her work had been done too well.  The more “Down to the River” rambled around in my thoughts, the more attractive it became.  It suits my taste in music, it’s kind of a gospel/folk song, and is appealing to my current mood.

So thanks to Lynn V for the request.  Here you go.

And… I can’t resist… who can think of “O Brother” without at least once saying “We thought you was a toad!”

2 thoughts on “Down to the River to Pray Southern Gospel on Piano

  1. Oh my goodness what an amazing job on what seems like a difficult piece of music. I really enjoyed it wishing you were here to play it in person.

    • It’s not my typical country gospel beat, but I enjoyed learning Down to the River. It was a good song.