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​Wake Nicodemus

This song is by Tim Curry and appears on the album Read My Lips (1978).

Nicodemus the slave was of African birth and was bought for a bag full of gold
He was reckoned to be of the salt of the earth, but he died years ago very old
Twas his last sad request, so we laid him to rest in the trunk of an old hollow tree
Wake me up was his charge at the first break of day, wake me up for the great jubilee

He was known as a prophet, at least was as wise, for he told of the battles to come
And we trembled with dread when he rolled up his eyes, and we heeded the shake of his thumb.
Though he clothed us with fear, yet the garments he wore were in patches at elbow and knee
And he still wears the suit that he used to of yore as he sleeps in the old hollow tree

Nicodemus was never the sport of the lash, though the bullet has oft crossed his path
There were none of his masters so brave or so rash as to face such a man in his wrath
Yet his great heart of kindness was filled to the brim, he obeyed who was born to command
But he longed for the morning which then was so dim, for the morning which now is at hand

Twas a long weary night, we were almost in fear that the future was more than he knew
Twas a long weary night but the morning is near and the words of our prophet are true
There are signs in the sky that the darkness is gone, there are tokens in endless array
While the storm which had seemingly banished the dawn, on hastens the event of the day

The good time coming is almost here
It was long, long, long on the way
Now run and tell Elijah to hurry up pomp
And to meet us at the gum tree down in the swamp
To wake Nicodemus today


  • A ballad by Henry Clay Work, originally published in 1864, researched by Betty Thomas