“Kingdom Coming (The Year of Jubilo)”


"Say, darkeys, hab you seen de massa, Wid de muff-stash on his face, Go long the road some time dis mornin' Like he gwine to leab de place?" The slaves exult that the coming of Union soldiers is chasing Master away, leaving them free (and free to rejoice)

Supplemental text

Kingdom Coming (The Year of Jubilo)
  Complete text(s)

          *** A ***

Kingdom Coming

From sheet music published 1862 by Root & Cady.
Title page inscribed
     Twentieth Edition
      Kingdom Coming
        AUTHOR OF
"Nellie Lost and Found;" "Our Captain's Last Words;"
       Grafted into the Army, etc."

1. Say, darkeys, hab you seen de massa,
   Wid de muff stash on his face,
   Go long the road some time dis mornin',
   Like he gwine to leab de place?
   He seen a smoke, way up de ribber,
   Whar the Linkum gumboats lay;
   He took his hat, an' lef' berry sudden,
   An' I spec he's run away!

De massa run? ha, ha!
De darkey stay? ho, ho!
It mus' be now de kingdom comin',
An' de year ob Jubilo!

  Second Verse
He six foot one way, two foot tudder,
An' he weigh tree hundred pound,
His coat so big, he couldn't pay de tailor,
An' it won't go half way round.
He drill so much dey call him Cap'an,
An' he get so drefful tanned,
I spec he try an' fool dem Yankees
For to tink he's contraband.

   Third Verse
De darkeys feel so lonesome libing
in de log-house on the lawn,
Dey move dar tings to massa's parlor,
For to keep it while he's gone.
Dar's wine an' cider in de kitchen,
An' de darkeys dey'll hab some;
I spose dey'll all be comfiscated
When de Linkum sojers come.

   Fourth Verse
De oberseer he make us trouble,
An he dribe us round a spell;
We lock him up in de smokehouse cellar,
Wid de key trown in de well.
De whip is lost, de han'cuff broken,
But de massa'll hab his pay;
He's ole enough, big enough, ought to known better
Dan to went an' run away.


This was the first song by Henry Clay Work (1832-1864) to be published. Work was a fervent abolitionist; his father had been jailed for his activities with the underground railroad. One day the younger Work showed up at Root and Cady. George F. Root described him as "a quiet and rather solemn-looking young man, poorly clad," but was astonished by the song he brought along.

"Kingdom Coming" was taken up by the Christy Minstrels in 1862, and soon became a runaway bestseller. Work's career was off to a fine start.

In a rather hilarious twist, the polemic _War Songs and Poems of the Southern Confederacy_ (1904?) publishes this as "The Contraband," along with an explanation of how slaves loved their masters! Work's name, naturally, is omitted; it is offered as "A song of Mississippi negros in the Vicksburg campaign."

I have never seen an explanation of how this song originated, but there is an incident which might have played a tangential role, and which happened fairly early. In 1862, in the western theater of the war, Confederate commander Albert Sydney Johnston had played a vast game of bluff, occupying a line in Kentucky and northern Tennessee with forces he knew to be inadequate to the task. After U. S. Grant broke the center of his line by capturing Forts Henry and Donelson, he had no choice but to move the rest of his lines sharply south. In the process, he had to abandon his main supply base at Nashville (February 24, 1862, according to [no author], _The Civil War Almanac_, World Almanac/Bison Books, 1983, pp. 86-87).

When Federal troops entered Nashville, a reporter went to one of the leading hotels and pounded on the door. According to Shelby Foote, _The Civil War: A Narrative_ (Volume I: Fort Sumter to Perryville) (Random House, 1958), p. 217, "He kept on ringing, with the persistency of a tired and hungry man within reach of food and a clean bed. At last he was rewarded. A Negro swung the door ajar and stood there smiling broadly. 'Massa done gone souf,' he said, still grinning."

What's more, there *was* "a smoke way up de ribber" at that time. It came from two Confederate gunboats being burned (Foote, p. 216) -- but the civilians could hardly know that, and they *did* know that Federal gunboats had been responsible for the capture of Fort Henry and had attacked (though they had been repelled at) Fort Donelson. - RBW

Cross references


  • Frank Jenkins & his Pilot Mountaineers [Oscar Jenkins, Frank Jenkins, Ernest V. Stoneman], "In the Year of Jubilo" (Conqueror, unissued, 1929)
  • Chubby Parker, "The Year of Jublio" (Conqueror 7897, 1931)
  • Pete Seeger, "Kingdom Coming" (on PeteSeeger28)


  1. Randolph 230, "The Year of Jubelo" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. BrownII 232, "Kingdom Coming" (3 texts)
  3. RJackson-19CPop, pp. 106-109, "Kingdom Coming" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Silber-CivWar, pp. 92-93, "Kingdom Coming" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Spaeth-WeepMore, pp. 114-115, "Kingdom Coming" (1 text, 1 tune)
  6. Greenway-AFP, p. 104, "The Year of Jubalo" (1 text)
  8. ST R230 (Full)
  9. Roud #778
  10. BI, R230


Alternate titles: “Massa's Gone Away”
Author: Henry Clay Work
Earliest date: 1862
Found in: US(SE,So)