(To learn how to play the song on piano, watch the video at bottom of page; to get the free sheet music, click the menu option above.)
I Am Bound For The Promised Land (also known as On Jordans Stormy Bank I Stand) was written by Samuel Stennett, first published in 1787, music credited to Miss M. Durham and published 1835. It is in the public domain.
Samuel was born in 1727. His father was a pastor (7th day adventist), as were many of his forebears. Though a nonconformist, he was a friend of King George III. In those days, nonconformist meant someone who didn’t toe the line of the official church. Being the king’s pal must have been a big help to Stennett, who scored an excellent education in spite of being nonconformist.
An early published collection of hymns (1787) included many of Samuel’s works, including On Jordan’s Stormy Banks, first published as “The Promised Land.” Not much is known regarding who wrote the melody though credited to M. Durham, but the earliest versions made use of minor chords in the tune. You can find versions done in minor keys if you look on Youtube, but I couldn’t bring myself to follow that path.
My own experience with the song was under the title “I Am Bound For The Promised Land.” We sang it in the churches of my youth, and it was a cheerful, happy little tune. I always enjoyed signing it during the services. Playing it now has been a real pleasure. The melody is straightforward and repetitive, but very enjoyable. No frills or trills here, just a sweet melody.
You may have noticed this doesn’t sound like my usual playing. After spending a couple of weeks or so getting a feel for the song and a habit of how to play it, I went totally brain-dead today while recording. Don’t know if it was stage fright, memory loss, or just nap-time, but I couldn’t remember anything about how it was supposed to sound. So I faked a couple of verses, just improvising along, only to realize it sounded kind of nice. A huge mistake wound up being an accidental benefit, and the song was uploaded exactly as improvised. Wish all my mistakes went that well. I hope you still like it!