“Kumbaya” and Dramatizations of an Etiological Legend

Patricia Averill with John Blocher, Jr.


Averill, Patricia, with John Bocher, Jr. “‘Kumbaya’ and Dramatizations of an Etiological Legend.” New York Folklore, vol 46:1-2, 2020. pp 26-32.


"Kumbaya" evolved from the African American spiritual "Come by Here." A transcription by John Bocher, Jr., published in 1955, became the standard version. Howecer, it was widely believed to have been brought from Africa by a missionary. This article traces the origins of the most common origin legends, then looks at those that influenced behavior. It concludes with comments on the persisting belief in an African genesis.

About The Article