Tag Archives: gospel

Folk Song

“So high, you can’t go over it,
So wide, you can’t go ’round it,
So deep, you can’t go under it,
You gotta go right through the door.”

Gabi learned this song from her father when she was a child and remarked that she had always found it a little disturbing. Upon reading those lyrics alone, it would seem to be unsettling because it invokes feelings of a traditional rite of passage (i.e. the inevitable crossing the threshold into adulthood) or intimations of mortality (i.e. in inevitable crossing of the threshold into the afterlife and the potential of subsequent judgment).

Upon research, I found that this song is derivative from a traditional gospel piece called “Rock my soul in the bosom of Abraham.” The full lyrics are:
“Rocka’ my soul in the bosom of Abraham
Rocka’ my soul in the bosom of Abraham
Rocka’ my soul in the bosom of Abraham
Oh, rocka’ my soul.

So high you can’t get over it
So low you can’t get under it
So wide you can’t get ’round it
You gotta’ go in at the door.

Rock, rock, rocka’ my soul
Rocka’ my soul
Rock, rock, rocka’ my soul
Rocka’ my soul.”
Though the song might be referencing “sheol,” in Judaism, the place where the righteous dead await judgment, it seems more likely that it is referring to the “bosom of Abraham” referenced in the Christian Bible in Luke 16:20-23, when the righteous beggar Lazarus is carried there while an unrighteous rich man is sent to Hell. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bosom_of_Abraham]
In popular culture, the gospel song has been recorded by Elvis Presley, The Temptations, and George Clinton and the Funkadelics.