Jacob's Ladder? What does it mean?

Discussion in 'Music Ministry' started by hamricba, Aug 31, 2005.

  1. hamricba

    hamricba
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Messages:
    119
    Likes Received:
    0
    Many of you probably know this classic song:

    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.

    Sinner, do you love your Jesus?
    Sinner, do you love your Jesus?
    Sinner, do you love your Jesus?
    Soldiers of the cross.

    If you love Him, why not serve Him?
    If you love Him, why not serve Him?
    If you love Him, why not serve Him?
    Soldiers of the cross.

    But I was wondering, just what does this song mean? Ok, I see the encouragement to ministry in the last 2 verses. But what on earth do the first 2 verses mean?

    I realize there is some reference to Jacob's dream here in Genesis, but how do WE relate to that? Someone help me out. My first impressions are that this song is very poorly written. But perhaps someone can redeem the images for me. Thanks for any and all feedback.
     
  2. Debby in Philly

    Debby in Philly
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2003
    Messages:
    2,537
    Likes Received:
    0
    This is an old African-American Spiritual. Many of these songs were, on the surface, religious songs. But many times they were used as "code" in helping slaves escaping their owners, sometimes via the underground railroad. I don't know for certain, but this one could have been a signal involving an actual ladder and/or the approaching Union Army. Maybe even "climb up the ladder" and join the Union Army. There are many books and web articles on the subject.
     
  3. Helen

    Helen
    Expand Collapse
    <img src =/Helen2.gif>

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2001
    Messages:
    11,703
    Likes Received:
    1
    First, it's every RUNG goes higher, higher. And although Debby is quite correct about the possible second meaning, the first meaning also correlates to Jacob's struggles with the Lord. In the oldest story I know about this song, the fact that the dream of the ladder takes place while Jacob is fleeing the deception he took part in regarding his birth blessing was adopted by the early slaves as a parallel to being kidnapped from their own country and brought to the colonies as slaves. But it was also seen as the way they learned about Christ and that the ladder was the upward climb, via struggles and hardships, to become closer to Him. In other words, they adopted elements of the biblical story to themselves, even though the original meaning was not quite the same.

    Whether or not it was also used as a code song during the days of the Underground Railroad, the way "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" was, I don't know -- but I wouldn't be at all surprised if it was. Many of the slaves were forbidden to talk during their work in the fields, but the overseers found that if the slaves were allowed to sing, their work output increased. Therefore gospel songs were allowed, but the slaves also put many of them to another use as code songs for various goings on, usually regarding organized escape attempts.
     
  4. hamricba

    hamricba
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Messages:
    119
    Likes Received:
    0
    Ladies,

    Thank you for your responses.

    Helen, I can certainly see where "rung" would be the original version. What I typed is an adapation that has come about, I guess "round" sounds better musically?

    Do you all feel the song has value in worship today, especially in anglo congregations? I can appreciate its historical value.
     
  5. Debby in Philly

    Debby in Philly
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2003
    Messages:
    2,537
    Likes Received:
    0
    It is useful in that almost everyone knows the tune, and one can make up many verses and/or other lyrics to it as the situation requires. To use it "as is" is probably not the best choice of songs when there are so many others with more meaningful lyrics. Just my opinion.
     
  6. Marcia

    Marcia
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2004
    Messages:
    11,139
    Likes Received:
    0
    No, I do not see a value for it and I do not think it should be sung, especially by children, and this is why: This is one of those songs that made me think you had to do things to please God to get to heaven. This is one of the few songs I recall singing. Climbing a ladder is hard work! A child would see this as a works oriented message. They will not appreciate the more subtle meanings (if there are any).

    I rejected Christianity around age 16, clearly believing that Christianity was just another feeble way to try to please some God out there who was keeping track of our mistakes. (I am a believer now, just to clarify!)
     
  7. SaggyWoman

    SaggyWoman
    Expand Collapse
    Administrator
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2000
    Messages:
    17,933
    Likes Received:
    8
    I still like

    Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.
    Coming for to carry me home...
    Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,
    Coming for to carry me home.
     
  8. pinoybaptist

    pinoybaptist
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2002
    Messages:
    8,123
    Likes Received:
    1
    Folks,

    is there anybody here who can direct this cross-eyed chap to a site where one can download sacred hymns sheet and the music file, for free ?
    i'd much prefer the fasola shape note type of music, but otherwise the regular shapes will be just as good.
    i'm looking for songs like What Wondrous Love is This, the ninety and nine, hallelujah what a savior, beneath the cross of jesus and the likes.
    thanks for whatever help.
     
  9. Eric B

    Eric B
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2001
    Messages:
    4,806
    Likes Received:
    2
    Another 'spiritual' type song I used to hear (on a secular station that had a 'gospel' program on Sundays):

    I'm climbing up...
    on the rough side...
    of the mountain.
    And I 'm doing
    my best - to make it in"

    I guess this is supposed to be talking about enduring the hardships in life until we enter the Kingdom. But I used to hear this when I was a new Christian (and heavily influenced by works-oriented groups like Armstronigism) so it really sounds like working your way into Heaven (through the hardships of life).
     

Share This Page

Loading...