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Hymns of the Morning: Shenandoah — “The provenance of the song is unclear”

Arlo Guthrie Featuring paintings by Albert Bierstadt, George Catlin, Frederick Remington, Howard Terpning, and visual arts by Spadecaller.

There are no “official” or traditional hymns of praise for Thanksgiving. This one, however, will do and do nicely.

“The lyrics tell the story of a roving trader in love with the daughter of an Indian chief; in this interpretation, the rover tells the chief of his intent to take the girl with him far to the west, across the Missouri River. Other interpretations tell of a pioneer’s nostalgia for the Shenandoah River Valley in Virginia, or of a Confederate soldier in the American Civil War, dreaming of his country home in Virginia. The provenance of the song is unclear.” 

[There are many verses and variations.]

The Missouri, she’s a mighty river
Away you rolling river
The red man’s camp lies on her borders
Away, we’re bound away across the wide

A white man loved an Indian maiden
Away you rolling river
With notions sweet his canoe was laden
Away, we’re bound away across the wide

O Shenandoah, I love your daughter
Away you rolling river
I’ll take her ‘cross the rolling water
Away, we’re bound away across the wide

The chief disdained the trader’s dollars
Away you rolling river
My daughter never you shall follow
Away, we’re bound away across the wide

At last there came a Yankee skipper
Away you rolling river
He winked his eye, and he tipped his flipper
Away, we’re bound away across the wide

He sold the chief that fire-water
Away you rolling river
And ‘cross the river he stole his daughter
Away, we’re bound away across the wide

O Shenandoah, I long to hear you
Away you rolling river
Across the wide and rolling water
Away, we’re bound away across the wide

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Rob De Witt November 22, 2017, 12:51 PM

    There are no “official” or traditional hymns of praise for Thanksgiving.

    I beg to differ:


  • Bunny November 22, 2017, 3:29 PM
  • Uncle Max November 22, 2017, 6:30 PM

    ” no official hymns of praise for Thanksgiving…”

    uh… cough, cough… Alice’s Restaurant

  • Casey Klahn November 22, 2017, 7:37 PM

    I like Arlo’s version just fine, but I love TEFord’s rendition. This song I heard performed by the high school band this month at the Veterans Day ceremony.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all.

  • Millie_woods November 23, 2017, 3:22 PM

    Nice, but I prefer Dylan’s cover.

  • Doug November 23, 2017, 6:46 PM

    James Mcneill Whistler loved an Indian girl?

  • Ulysses Toole November 26, 2020, 5:49 AM

    Uncle Max….gotta go watch that Turkey Drop clip from WKRP and later Planes, Trains, and Automobiles to make my Thanksgiving complete.

  • Tom Hyland November 26, 2020, 7:43 AM

    @ Rob De Witt… I’m receiving a message that this is a “private video” but signing into google still doesn’t allow me to open it. Can you describe the video and maybe I can find it through other means?

  • James ONeil November 26, 2020, 9:32 AM

    Love the song,but not especially fond Gurthrie’s version.

    John McDermott’s ; https://youtu.be/905whhpVrnw
    Annie Moses Band’s; https://youtu.be/WNDnifKtNh4
    Liam Clancy’s; https://youtu.be/VbuWbve6gto
    Sissel’s; https://youtu.be/N5grgB-dV2o

    all calm my soul far more than Arlo’s.

    Here a link to the sheet music, just in case if, like me, you wanna dig out your taishogoto & let Shenandoah flow off your fingers this time of year; https://michaelkravchuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Shenandoah-F-Major.pdf

  • Jahaziel Maqqebet November 26, 2020, 11:06 AM

    teDford. Spelling counts.

  • Jahaziel Maqqebet November 26, 2020, 11:11 AM

    LoLoL at all the different lyrics and versions. Clearly Arlo’s version set off politically incorrect rockets.
    Shame on the bloody lot of them, all full of melody and moldy fear of the gotcha culture.
    Bravo Arlo.

  • Jahaziel Maqqebet November 26, 2020, 11:22 AM

    More on the song. Find the horrid political correctness at work. Again, honor is due to Arlo.


  • Casey Klahn November 26, 2020, 12:17 PM

    Jahaziel Maqqebet, greetings and thanks. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

  • James ONeil November 26, 2020, 12:38 PM

    Me, just not impressed with Guthrie’s version.
    Hum. Checked the wiki article, didn’t see much, if any, PC, mostly facts/versions noted.
    Checked first 20 or so comments on Arlo’s youtube singing, didn’t notice any PC only praise.

  • Auntie Analogue November 26, 2020, 3:32 PM

    When I hear the name Shenandoah I think of the USS Shenandoah (ZR-1).

    Stationed, years ago, at what was then NAS Lakehurst, I drove and walked often along its Lansdowne Road, named for the Shenandoah’s captain, Lieutenant Commander Zachary Lansdowne, who was one of the fourteen men who died in her 3 September 1925 crash.

    Vernon Dalhart – “The Wreck of the Shenandoah” . . . : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cill0LUaehg

  • Terry November 26, 2020, 5:02 PM

    @ James

    I thank you for your four suggestions. All beautiful and welcome for me on this special day.

    I for one, do not read political rubbish that does not exist into anything. I love beautiful music of all stripes.

  • Van Fan November 26, 2020, 5:49 PM
  • Bunny November 26, 2020, 6:16 PM

    Tom Hyland, I’m guessing it might be some version of this hymn?

  • Dan November 29, 2020, 4:30 PM

    We Gather Together To Ask The Lord’s Blessing

    We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
    He chastens and hastens his will to make known;
    The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
    Sing praises to his name; he forgets not his own.

    Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
    Ordaining, maintaining his kingdom divine;
    So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
    Thou, Lord, wast at our side; all glory be thine!

    We all do extol thee, thou leader triumphant,
    And pray that thou still our defender wilt be.
    Let thy congregation escape tribulation;
    Thy name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!

  • Joan Of Argghh! December 3, 2020, 5:24 AM

    I would venture to allow “All Good Gifts” from Godspell as possibly a fine Thanksgiving hymn. I’ve often recited the lyrics at the table.