…four, for the poor who stood at the door

The sixth of eight children in a poor black family, Eunice Kathleen Waymon was born in Depression ravaged Tryon, North Carolina. At the age of three she began to play the piano at her family’s church.  By the age of twelve she was giving classical recitals, although at the first one her parents, who had taken front row seats, were forced to move to the back of the hall to make way for white people. She refused to play until they were returned to the front and once said that this incident was a catalyst for her later involvement in the civil rights movement.

Upon graduating from school she moved to New York City to study at the Julliard School of Music and began to play a mixture of jazz, blues and classical music in small clubs to finance her musical education.  She also decided to adopt a stage name, combining “Nina” (a nickname a boyfriend had given her) with “Simone” after the French actress, Simone Signoret.  During these performances she was required to sing and it was for her singing that she was first approached to make a recording.

It was Gershwin’s “I Loves You Porgy” from Porgy and Bess, which she learned by ear from a Billie Holiday album. The year was 1958 and although it would be her only Top 40 hit, for the remainder of her life she would ever be known as “The High Priestess of Soul.”

Recorded in 1959, this Sunday selection is a traditional “Negro Spiritual” that was released on the “High Priestess’” third studio album, “The Amazing Nina Simone.”  As I’m far from a Biblical scholar (or a Biblical or scholarly anything) I’ve managed to dig up a little cheat sheet of the song’s Old and New Testament references, including nine, ten, eleven and twelve, which are not included in Simone’s rousing version.

  1. We all know who the little, bitty baby is.
  2. Two for Paul and Silas
 (Paul being St. Paul and Silas being a close missionary companion)
  3. Three for the Hebrew children (Daniel’s companions in the fiery furnace: Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego)
  4. Four for the poor who stood at the door (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John)
  5. Five for the Gospel preachers (Paul and the four others who joined him on his missionary journeys: Silas, Barnabas, Timothy, and John Mark)
  6. Six for the six that couldn’t get fixed (i.e. picked)
  7. Seven for the seven who came from Heaven (Seven-fold Spirit of God)
  8. Eight for the eight who stood at the gate (The eight people who entered Noah’s Ark)
  9. Nine for the ninety-nine in line (Those waiting while the Good Shepherd sought “His” one lost sheep)
  10. Ten for the Ten Commandments
  11. Eleven for the eleven who went to Heaven (The twelve disciples minus Judas Iscariot)
  12. Twelve for the twelve Apostles

LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Sunday 18 March 

Children go where I send you

 Children go where I send you,

How shall I send you?

I’m gonna’ send you one by one,

One for the little bitty baby,

He was born, born, born in Bethlehem.

Children go where I send you,

How shall I send you?

I’m gonna’ send you two by two,

Two for Paul and Silas

One for the little bitty baby,

He was born, born, born in Bethlehem.

Children go where I send you,

How shall I send you?

I’m gonna’ send you four by four,

Four for the poor that stood at the door,

Three for the Hebrew children,

Two for Paul and Silas,

One for the little bitty baby,

He was born, born, born in Bethlehem.

Children go where I send you,

How shall I send you?

I’m gonna’ send you six by six,

Six for the six that couldn’t get fixed,

Five for the gospel preacher,

Four for the poor that stood at the door,

Three for the Hebrew children,

Two for Paul and Silas,

One for the little bitty baby,

He was born, born, born in Bethlehem.

Children go where I send you,

How shall I send you?

I’m gonna’ send you eight by eight,

Eight for the eight that stood at the gate,

Seven for the seven came down from heaven,

Six for the six that couldn’t get fixed,

Five for the gospel preacher,

Four for the poor that stood at the door,

Three for the Hebrew children,

Two for Paul and Silas,

One for the little bitty baby, One for the little bitty baby,

One for the little bitty baby,

He was born, born,

He was born…in Bethlehem.

One thought on “…four, for the poor who stood at the door

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