This spiritual song originates from the 1920s. It has been traced to the African-American Gullah people, who live on the Sea Islands just off the states of South Carolina and Georgia. In their Creole dialect "kumbaya" means simply "come by here" and this tune began as a Gullah spiritual where the former slaves living on the Sea Islands sang the lyric "Come by here, my Lord, come by here." It is thought that American missionaries taught the song to locals in Angola, and it was in the African country where it was rediscovered. The spiritual was brought back to America where it became a popular tune in the folk revival and civil rights movements of the 1960s and a standard campfire song.
Peter Seeger recorded this in 1958, but it was Joan Baez's live version in 1962 that really helped boost its popularity. In 1969 the vocal group, The Sandpipers took this song to #38 in the UK singles charts.
16-tear-old Lorde wrote the lyrics to "Royals" at home in just half an hour. She was inspired by the "ridiculous, unrelatable, unattainable opulence" that runs through such albums as Kanye West and Jay-Z's Watch the Throne and Lana Del Rey's Born To Die.