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"Keep Your Eyes on the Prize" - Traditional

History of an American folk song


History of "Keep Your Eyes on the Prize"

Based on the classic hymn "Hold On" (a.k.a. "Gospel Plow"), this song's exact origins are unknown. However, it was adapted for the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s by an activist named Alice Wine. Wine added verses and changed some lyrics to adapt it specifically to the plight of Civil Rights activists.

"Keep Your Eyes on the Prize" Lyrics

As it was adapted from an old spiritual song about continuing despite adversity, the lyrics of "Keep Your Eyes on the Prize" allude to many passages from the Bible. The lyrics are about transcending oppression and persevering despite any struggle or obstacles that may arise in one's path:

Paul and Silas thought they was lost
Dungeon shook and the chains come off
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on
Freedom's name is mighty sweet
And soon we're gonna meet
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on

Who has recorded "Keep Your Eyes on the Prize"?

Several versions of this quintessential Civil Rights anthem have been recorded, including excellent versions by Mahalia Jackson (purchase/download), Pete Seeger (purchase/download), Bob Dylan (purchase/download), and more recently Bruce Springsteen (purchase/download.
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