You’ve Gotta Sing When the Spirit Says Sing on Throwback Thursday

This beautiful classic was submitted by member Joanie Calem. Photo by zeevveez from Jerusalem, Israel (Peace Dove Stuck in Stone, Jerusalem Center) via Wikimedia Commons

This was a song I learned from my fourth grade teacher, who sang with our class every day at the end of the day, way back in the sixties.   It didn’t occur to me back then that the song was a “zipper” song, as we have come to call the songs that can change from verse to verse, but when I revisited the song as an adult, I understood it’s power.  It was one of the first songs that I thought of to offer to children during February as a sample of wonderful music from the Civil Rights era.

According to the book, When The Spirit Says Sing, by Kerran L. Sanger, “…in the late 1950s and early 1960s, such songs as “We Shall Overcome,” “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize,” and “Do What the Spirit Says Do” were sung at virtually every mass meeting, demonstration, and planning session of Civil Rights activists.”  This is a super simple song with a whole lot of power behind it!

Raffi recorded the song, and brought it into the world of children’s music, and now a quick YouTube search shows that many different choirs use it on a regular basis.


You gotta sing when your spirit says sing,

You gotta sing when your spirit says sing,

When your spirit says sing,

you gotta sing right along,

You  gotta sing when the spirit says sing.


You gotta shout …

You gotta dance….

You gotta march…..