The origin of this well-known African American spiritual is lost to time, but it was probably composed on the fly by a slave or slaves working on a plantation in the antebellum Deep South.
Whatever its origin, the song was clearly inspired by the Old Testament tale of the fall of Jericho, from the Book Of Joshua. The Israelite army led by Joshua marched around the city blowing their trumpets - ram's horns - and after Joshua ordered them to shout, the walls collapsed.
It remains to be seen how much of the tale can be attributed to myth and how much to history.
The song title is also rendered as "Joshua Fit The Battle Of Jericho" and "Joshua Fit De Battle Ob Jericho," and has been widely recorded. The reference to the walls coming tumbling down is an all too obvious metaphor for escape from slavery.
The first known recording was in 1922 by Harrod's Jubilee Singers (after the Fisk Jubilee Singers), but it has also been recorded by white artists, including Elvis Presley.
Suggestion credit: Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 3
Two tears roll down Sinead O'Connor's face. toward the end of the video for "Nothing Compares 2 U." They were shed because she associated the song's lyrics of love and loss with her mother, who was killed in a car accident in 1985.