Tuesday, May 31, 2011


A New Interpretation of Kumbaya

Perhaps the song Kumbaya is not really an African-American spiritual dating from the 1930s, but rather a vestige of an ancient Greek skolion, a drinking song. Could kumbaya be a corruption of the plural of Greek κυμβίον (kumbíon = small cup)? By this interpretation, "my Lord" in the song is an address to the symposiarch, the master of the revels. "Kumbaya, my Lord, kumbaya" is therefore a call for the symposiarch to supply more cups of wine. In Latin, "Pocula, magister bibendi, pocula!" :-)

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