“Were You There”

With another Holy Week upon us, I’ve been dwelling on my favorite hymn of the season, “Were You There.” The definitive version, or at least my personal pick for the best one, has to be by Johnny Cash–his craggy voice is well suited to this kind of somber gospel tune, and the assistance of the angelic voices of the Carter Family on most recorded versions makes it even more heavenly.
The take below is from the Grand Old Opry in 1962, in a much less “produced” rendition than the more common studio releases one typically hears.

There are many other versions of “Were You There,” of course, and its origins as a Negro Spiritual are well documented. Go here for the lyrics as printed in a hymnal in 1926.

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