Bound for the Promised Land

TITLE: Bound for the Promised Land
AUTHOR: Words: Samuel Stennett (1787), Music: M. Durham (1835)
CATEGORY: Author Known, Public Domain
KEYWORDS: religious
HISTORICAL REFERENCES: Samuel Stennett wrote the words for this song, and originally titled it, “Heaven Anticipated.” When he wrote it he had no idea that these words would comfort a dying man.

3306421900_5bbb72c768Sam Davis joined the Confederate army when he was a student at Nashville. He was such a good soldier that he was selected to be part of the elite group of spies named “Coleman’s Scouts.” He proved to be a great undercover agent.

In 1863, Sam was thrown in jail in Tennessee. He had papers and maps under his saddle that proved that he was a spy. The captors promised to set him free if he would just identify the “Coleman’s Scouts,” and Coleman himself. Of course, Sam refused. 

He was immediately sentenced to death. Private C. B. Van Pelt read his sentence to him. Van Pelt was later to say, “A reprieve was extended which I also read to him, if he would inform us as to where ‘Coleman’ was. He stood before me, an uncrowned hero, his eyes flashing, and he said, ‘I will die a thousand deaths rather than betray my friends.’ We were both moved to tears and remained silent for a time.”

What these men did not know was that ‘Coleman’ was really Dr. H. B. Shaw, who was at that moment in an adjacent cell and was later released. How ironic that this man lived, but one of his most faithful spies had to die.

The night before his execution, Sam wrote to his mother, “Oh how painful it is to write you! I have to die tomorrow morning – to be hanged by the Federals. Mother, do not grieve for me. I must bid you good-bye forevermore.”

The day before the hanging a chaplain by the name of James Young spent the day with Sam, praying and praising the Lord. That evening they held a small worship service. Sam requested them to sing, “On Jordan’s Stormy Banks.” Those present said they would never forget the sound of Sam’s voice as he sang, “I am bound for the Promised Land, I am bound for the Promised Land.”

There is a monument in honor of Sam Davis on the lawn of the Tennessee State Capitol. On the monument are these words inscribed: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
(from nickel-notes)


  • Promised Land
  • The Promised Land
  • I Am Bound for the Promised Land
  • On Jordan’s Stormy Banks



BONUS YOUTUBE VIDEO: Diane Bish on the 117 Rank Ruffatti Organ of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Bound for the Promised Land

On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand
And cast a wishful eye
To Canaan’s fair and happy land
Where my possessions lie

I am bound for the promised land
I’m bound for the promised land
Oh who will come and go with me
I am bound for the promised land

O’er all those wide extended plains
Shines on eternal day
There God the Son forever reigns
And scatters night away

I am bound for the promised land
I’m bound for the promised land
Oh who will come and go with me
I am bound for the promised land

No chilling winds or poisonous breath
Can reach that healthful shore
Sickness and sorrow pain and death
Are felt and feared no more

I am bound for the promised land
I’m bound for the promised land
Oh who will come and go with me
I am bound for the promised land

When shall I reach that happy place
And be forever blessed
When shall I see my Father’s face
And in His bosom rest

I am bound for the promised land
I’m bound for the promised land
Oh who will come and go with me
I am bound for the promised land


  • Folk Song Index: A Comprehensive Guide to the Florence E. Brunnings Collection, Florence E. Brunnings, Garland Publishing, Inc., New York and London 1981—Amazon Books
  • Country Music Sources: A Biblio-Discography of Commercially Recorded Traditional Music, Guthrie T. Meade, Jr. with Dick Spottswood and Douglas S. Meade, Southern Folklife Collection, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries, NC 2002—Amazon Books
  • Blues and Gospel Records 1902-1943, John Goodrich and Robert M.W. Dixon, Storyville Publications and Company, London Revised 1969.
  • Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore (1952), Volume 3: Folk Songs from North Carolina. Edited by Henry M Beldin and Arthur Palmer Hudson. Duke University Press.


NOTICE: I’m not the best guitar player or vocalist, but no one loves these songs more than I do. The tune and lyrics are in the public domain unless otherwise noted. The recording © copyright 2013 by Stephen Griffith and may be used by permission of the copyright holder. The variation of the song I’m posting is the version I perform and is not exactly replicating the sources cited, but is always in the same song family. If anyone has more details about this song, or believes I’ve stated something in error, please let me know. I’m also open to suggestions to improve the site. Thanks. sgg

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