Popular with recording artists in jazz and country-western and places in-between, the ten-seed is a favorite in churches as a funeral song. It was often requested in my white Iowa parish of the 90′s. It seems like it’s in every Catholic hymnal. As is true of many Black spirituals, the composer is unknown. Pinning it down to the 19th century–that’s the best anyone can do.
The other poll choice is “Immaculate Mary,” likely one of the most popular hymns that didn’t make it into the NPM Songs That Make A Difference poll. Hear the kids sing it here. It’s a folk melody adapted for a text credited to Abbe Gaignet. But who knows? Its origins are almost as clouded as “Just A Closer Walk.” There are so many versions of it. Listen to a few more here. I had a school liturgy once where they insisted on singing about ten verses of it–only three are published. But it’s an easy two-line rhyme to adapt for singing.