The Fisk Jubilee Singers’ Songbook (1878)

The African American musical ensemble called the Fisk Jubilee Singers were so popular during their stay in Germany in 1877 that they published a songbook for audiences to purchase. Meant to be sung in the comfort of one’s home, the songbook featured popular spirituals and other hymnals translated into German for German consumers.

Below you will find both the German translation of one of their most popular songs, “Steal Away to Jesus” in 1878 and the original version published in the United States in 1873. What are some differences between the two versions? What also remains the same in the German translation?

Kira Thurman


Jubilee Singers Ruf zu Jesu“Ruf zu Jesu” (1878)

Fisk Jubilee Singers_Steal Away_ English“Steal Away to Jesus” (originally 1873)


  • “Ruf zu Jesu,” in Auserwählte amerikanische Negerlieder in deutschem Gewand, nebst andern beliebten Hymnen, edited by Ernst Gebhardt (Basel: Spittler, 1878), 1. Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Preußischer Kulturbesitz.
  • “Steal Away to Jesus,” in Jubilee Songs: As Sung by the Jubilee Singers, edited by Theodore F. Seward and George L. White (New York: Biglow & Main, 1873), 28.

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