I have been singing Kumbayh for a long, long time. Through the years it has been sung as a spiritual by church choirs and around campfires by Boy Scouts. When I was a teenager it was recorded as a folk song by the likes of Peter, Paul and Mary and by Joan Baez. It is sung by Christians and non-Christians alike.

What is a Kumbayah?

A 2006 news article from the Dallas Morning News (How did ‘Kumbaya’ become a mocking metaphor?) states:

Sometime between 1922 and 1931, members of an organization called the Society for the Preservation of Spirituals collected a song from the South Carolina coast. “Come By Yuh,” as they called it, was sung in Gullah, the Creole dialect spoken by the former slaves living on the Sea Islands.

It can be translated as “Come by Here” or “Come by My God.”

Get your coffee ready to watch the video, Khumbaya. It is by the Soweto Gospel Choir from South Africa.

Can you hear them singing?

In recent days Kumbayh has fallen into derision, satire and ridicule but I think it’s a good choice for those who choose to live a missional lifestyle.

You see, the song’s about people crying, singing, and calling out for God to come help them.

Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” So Jesus went with him. – Mark 5:22-24 (NIV)

Grace and Peace,

Join the Conversation: In what ways can the lyrics of Kumbayh help us focus on the task of taking the Good News to people?

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