"I Shall Not Be Moved", also known as "We Shall Not Be Moved", is an African-American slave spiritual, hymn, and protest song dating to the early 19th century American south.[1] It was likely originally sung at revivalist camp-meetings as a slave jubilee. The song describes being "like a tree planted by the waters" who "shall not be moved" because of faith in God. Secularly, as "We Shall Not Be Moved" it gained popularity as a protest and union song of the Civil Rights Movement.[2]

The text is based on biblical scripture:

Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

— Psalm 1:3

He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved.

In 1908 Alfred H. and B. D. Ackley copyrighted a hymn by the name "I Shall Not Be Moved".[3]

Civil rights movement

As "We Shall Not Be Moved" the song gained popularity as a protest and union song of the Civil rights movement.[2]

The song became popular in the Swedish anti-nuclear and peace movements in the late 1970s, in a Swedish translation by Roland von Malmborg, "Aldrig ger vi upp" ('Never shall we give up').[4]

Recorded versions

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Among others, the following artists recorded "I (We) Shall Not Be Moved":

The Housemartins on the 12 inch version of their 1985 UK number 1 single "Caravan of Love"

In popular culture

This section contains a list of miscellaneous information. Please relocate any relevant information into other sections or articles. (June 2021)

The Spinners set the musical tone of the 1975 Thames Television comedy about a Liverpool working-class family, The Wackers. The closing credits medley featured them singing "We Shall Not Be Moved" and "You'll Never Walk Alone".[29]

In Great Britain in the 1980s the song was used by the popular British wrestler Big Daddy as his walk-on music, which would be greeted by cheers from the fans.[30]

David Spener has written a book documenting the history of this song title, including how it was translated into Spanish, changing the first singular to third person plural, "No Nos Moverán"[31] (meaning "They will not move us"). That version was part of the soundtrack of the well-known popular tv series Verano azul, which popularized the song among the Spanish youth.[32]

JB Burnett covered the song for the first episode of the third season of Supernatural ("The Magnificent Seven").[citation needed]

Playwright Isaiah Reaves used the name for his show describing his grandmother's experiences as a Freedom Rider.[33]

See also


  1. ^ David Spener (2016). We Shall Not Be Moved: Biography of a Song of Struggle. Temple University Press. p. 4. ISBN 978-1-439-91299-7.
  2. ^ a b Robert V. Wells (2009). Life flows on in endless song: folk songs and American history. University of Illinois Press. p. 95. ISBN 978-0-252-07650-3.
  3. ^ Henry Date; Chas H Gabriel; George C. Stebbins; William J. Kirkpatrick (1911). Pentecostal hymns, nos. 5 & 6 combined : a winnowed collection for young people's societies, church prayer meetings, evangelistic services and Sunday schools. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Music Library. Chicago : Hope Pub. Co. p. 10.
  4. ^ Louise Pettersson (2010). "På jakt efter miljörörelsens sångtradition" [In search of the Swedish environmental movement's song tradition]. Hgo.diva-Portal.org (in Swedish). Retrieved 2019-03-25.
  5. ^ Thom Owens (1994-06-02). "Complete Recorded Works (1929-1936) - Blind Roosevelt Graves | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-01-11.
  6. ^ "Charley Patton Vol 2 1929 - Document Records Vintage Blues and Jazz". Document-records.com. Retrieved 2017-01-11.
  7. ^ "The original talking union and other union songs sound recording / with the Almanac Singers ; with Pete Seeger and chorus". Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 2021-05-20.
  8. ^ "The Harmonizing Four – I Shall Not Be Moved / I'll Go, Lord, Send Me! (1954, Shellac)". Discogs. Retrieved 2023-05-22.
  9. ^ "Lonnie Donegan Showcase - Lonnie Donegan". AllMusic. Retrieved 2021-05-16.
  10. ^ Fricke, David (1988-02-25). "Million Dollar Quartet: Complete Million Dollar Session : Music Reviews". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 2009-04-27. Retrieved 2021-05-19.
  11. ^ Mohdin, Aamna (2020-09-10). "'They couldn't arrest us all': civil rights veteran Rutha Mae Harris on MLK, protest and prison". The Guardian. Retrieved 2021-05-19.
  12. ^ "The Best of Mississippi John Hurt sound recording". Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 2021-05-20.
  13. ^ "Brighten the Corner - Ella Fitzgerald". AllMusic. Retrieved 2021-05-16.
  14. ^ "Oktoberklub". Deutsche Mugge. Retrieved 2021-05-16.
  15. ^ Bruce Eder. "The Best of the Seekers - The Seekers". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-01-11.
  16. ^ "An unofficial Blue Goose Records Homepage". Wirz. Retrieved 2021-05-21.
  17. ^ "Gracias a la Vida - Joan Baez". AllMusic. Retrieved 2021-05-16.
  18. ^ "Blues from Elmo, Texas - Henry Qualls | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. 1995-11-22. Retrieved 2017-01-10.
  19. ^ "I Shall Not Be Moved - Underground Ministries". AllMusic. Retrieved 2021-05-22.
  20. ^ "Still the Same Me - Sweet Honey in the Rock". AllMusic. Retrieved 2021-05-21.
  21. ^ "Front Seat Solidarity - This Bike Is a Pipe Bomb". AllMusic. Retrieved 2021-05-21.
  22. ^ "The music - In these times". "Peter, Paul and Mary" official website. Retrieved 2021-05-21.
  23. ^ "My Mother's Hymn Book - Johnny Cash". AllMusic. Retrieved 2021-05-21.
  24. ^ Sullivan, Caroline (2007-04-20). "CD: Mavis Staples, We'll Never Turn Back". The Guardian. Retrieved 2021-05-21.
  25. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Most of My Heroes Still Don't Appear on No Stamp - Public Enemy". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2012-08-14.
  26. ^ McDonagh, Owen; Bogside Men (1970). "Songs of Irish civil rights". Library of Congress. Belfast: Outlet. Retrieved 2021-05-22.
  27. ^ "They're Calling Me Home - Rhiannon Giddens". AllMusic. Retrieved 2021-05-18.
  28. ^ "Get On Board: The Songs of Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee". Allmusic. Retrieved 2022-07-08.
  29. ^ "The Wackers, 1975". British Classic Comedy. 2021-03-03. (the song can be heard at the end of the clips embedded in the article). Retrieved 2021-05-30.
  30. ^ "Big Daddy". Wilde Life: Official Kim Wilde Fansite. Retrieved 2021-05-22.
  31. ^ David Spener. 2016. We Shall Not Be Moved / No Nos Moverán: Biography of a Song of Struggle. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
  32. ^ "¡No nos moverán!". La Voz de Galicia (in Spanish). 2019-08-30. Retrieved 2019-12-09.
  33. ^ "Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati Presents a Double Bill of I SHALL NOT BE MOVED and YOUR NEGRO TOUR GUIDE". 29 March 2022.