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A Miscellany 166
Give Me That Old Time Religion

by: Paul W. Sharkey

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Give Me That Old Time Religion?


Shall I worship Zarathustra
just the way we use ta?
Be a Zarathustra Booster
What a thing to be!

Or maybe Aphrodite
She’s beautiful but flighty
and doesn’t wear a nighty,[1]
now there’s a sight to see.

Or perhaps I’ll choose Apollo
a decent god to follow
I’d grovel and I’d wallow
Brought low on bended knee.

Elohim or Yahweh?
Allah or the highway?
I think I’ll just go my way.
That’s good enough for me.


* For those not familiar with the Chorus (who could that possibly be?) it is: “Give me that old time religion” (repeat twice more for a total of three times) followed by “That’s good enough for me” – and some people complain about rock lyrics being inane!

  1. Credit (if that’s the right term) for portions of this and the first verse must be given to “a friend” of Joseph Campbell as quoted by him in an interview with Bill Moyers in The Power of Myth

Editor's note re copyright issues: (or there aren't any) It is generally considered that the original (religious version) of this song is based on an old African-American spiritual, and that version was first documented in 1889. (That link plays the music, if you need to hear it.) Interestingly, one Christian writer insists the religious version is actually a highway to hell - because it does not mention Jesus.

The best known parody version is attributed to Pete Seeger, and he is probably the "friend" referred to in footnote 1 above. But parodies have been documented almost as long ago (1891) as the original. And if for some reason you want to spend an hour or more singing this song without repeating a verse, this version (scroll about 1/3 down the long long page) will probably meet your needs.

The above is Paul Sharkey's version, written to bring the song to a truly rousing Apathetic Agnostic conclusion.