Reparations Archive

Our Most Recent Spiritual Performance

I'm On My Way

as a congregational hymn

STLT #116

This is another Freedom song derived from or patterned after a gospel song, which in turn originated as a spiritual. The original was titled “I’m On My Way to Canaan Land” (also known as “I’m On My Way to the Kingdom Land” and “I’m Bound for the Promised Land.") 

It seems likely, given the codes generally used in spirituals, that this is a song about the Underground Railroad.  Canaan, the Promised Land, and The Kingdom Land were probably coded references to destinations, and the song may have been used to signal that an escape plan by an enslaved person was underway.  Here’s Mahalia Jackson singing the spiritual in 2008:  And here’s Sweet Honey in the Rock singing the song in 2015, with “freedom land” replacing “Canaan land:”