The Story Behind The “Dry Bones” Song

delta r boysAlthough it’s often mistaken for a folksong, this popular spiritual that often pops up around Halloween was written by African-American author and composer, James Weldon Johnson.   The song has no exact date of composition, however, it was first recorded by the Famous Myers Jubilee Singers in 1928 and some versions of this song also give writing credit the author’s brother, J. Rosomond Johnson.  Since that time, it has been rerecorded and made popular by a wildly diverse group of musicians and performers including Rosemary Clooney, Tennessee Ernie Ford, The Mills Brothers, The Kingsmen and even Phish.

Although the song has spooky overtones, the lyrics are taken from the Biblical Book of Ezekial (Ezekial 37:1-14) where the Prophet Ezekial visits the Valley of Dry Bones and prophesies that the dead will one day rise again at the command of the Lord.  Although dry bones cd delta r boysthere are quite a few variations of the song, the format is pretty much the same.  The song starts with an introductory verse, tells the sequence of bones (from the toe upward) and almost always ends the command: “Now hear the word of the Lord.”

You can read one version of the lyrics and check a video of the Delta Rhythm Boys below.  The Delta Rhythm Boys were a very popular musical group that made this song well-known through their performances on radio, television and on Broadway.

LYRICS

•    Ezekiel connected dem dry bones,
•    Ezekiel connected dem dry bones,
•    Ezekiel in the Valley of Dry Bones,
•    Now hear the word of the Lord.

•    Toe bone connected to the foot bone
•    Foot bone connected to the heel bone
•    Heel bone connected to the ankle bone
•    Ankle bone connected to the shin bone
•    Shin bone connected to the knee bone
•    Knee bone connected to the thigh bone
•    Thigh bone connected to the hip bone
•    Hip bone connected to the back bone
•    Back bone connected to the shoulder bone
•    Shoulder bone connected to the neck bone
•    Neck bone connected to the head bone
•    Now hear the word of the Lord.

•    Chorus

•    Dem bones, dem bones gonna walk around.
•    Dem bones, dem bones gonna walk around.
•    Dem bones, dem bones gonna walk around.
•    Now hear the word of the Lord.

2 thoughts on “The Story Behind The “Dry Bones” Song

  1. Pingback: Shake Them Skeleton Bones! | Multi Kids Music Vids

  2. Pingback: Dry Bones | TheKittyCats

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