Bosom of Abraham Interpretations


All morning ever since I saw the word of the day for today’s challenge, I have been humming Rock My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham, so I decided after much deliberation and thought, to research the origin and write a bit about it.

Roman depiction of the Bosom of Abraham

This is taken from wikipedia-The Roman depiction of the Bosom of Abraham

Wikipedia says: it refers to the place of comfort where the righteous dead await.

Also, it says that it refers to the practice of reclining and eating meals in the proximity of other guests, the closest of whom physically was said to lie on the bosom (chest) of the host.

Some disagree about the origins, saying the true meaning was that the universal custom was for parents to take up into their arms, their children when they were tired, and make them rest by their side at night-thus causing them to enjoy rest and security in the bosom of a loving parent.

Yet according to Maldonatus (1583), the metaphor “to be in Abraham’s bosom” refers to the custom of reclining on couches at table, which prevailed among the Jews during and before the time of Jesus. They would lay close enough that one man’s head would rest on another’s breast, therefore being said “to lie in the bosom” of the other.

So, to be in Abraham’s bosom would mean to lie in repose and happiness with him.

Now then, the words to the song make a lot more sense don’t they?  😉

Rock O’ My Soul

Rock o’ my soul in de bosom of Abraham,

Rock o’ my soul in de bosom of Abraham,

Rock o’ my soul in de bosom of Abraham,

Lord, Rock o’ my soul. (King Jesus)

This is an African American spiritual which was first documented by William Frances Allen in the 1867 collection Slave Songs of the United States. All this info is according to Wikipedia. The song has also been recorded by other artists like the Heavenly Gospel Singers in 1937, Louis Armstrong, and Elvis Presley to name a few.

William Frances Allen

Alvin Ailey made “Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham”[4] the music for the triumphant finale of his internationally known choreography Revelations, which was born out of the choreographer’s “blood memories” of his childhood in rural Texas and attending the Baptist Church with his mother.[5] It was also performed as a tribute at his 1989 funeral at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.[6]

Photo of Alvin Ailey in 1955

So there you have it, a rather abbreviated version of a few meanings and interpretations of the song and the phrase, I hope this was enlightening and not seen as an affront to anyone in any way, just shedding some light on something that was on my mind. When I first saw the Word of the Day, I didn’t know what to do with it, but the song would not leave my head all day. So this is what I came up with. I learned something new myself!

PS-on a personal note, I have decided to study the Word a bit more like my brother, and in fact, listened to some of the lectures from his recent Bible studies which I found very interesting. This may have influenced my decision to write on this subject today. 🙂


Word of the Day Challenge