Down to the River to Pray, popularized by the movie, O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), was originally entitled The Good Old Way. It was first published in 1867 as part of a compilation of slave songs edited by George H. Allen. Although the song is attributed to him, it is understood that he is only the editor, not the composer.
The original tune is thought to have its roots in the Native American tribes of the northwest. The tune would have undoubtedly been passed from one American culture to the other until it was first notated in the Slave Songs of the US (1867). The text is thought to have its roots in the Underground Railroad. Whoever was to be freed (brother, sister, father, mother, etc.) would wear the robe and crown.
This arrangement, for six parts – SSATTB, uses a fun swing rhythm throughout. The slower and straight forward section, measures 103-114, incorporates a round and offers a welcome contrast to the syncopated swing rhythms. The song concludes with a bombastic barbershop style ending that your choir is sure to enjoy.