Of all of those great hymns from the hills that Bob Dylan sprinkled into his set lists during the late 1990s and the early part of this 21st century, the one I’m most grateful for is Pass Me Not O Gentle Savior (here’s a version from Bismarck, ND in March of 2000). I’ve posted about it on multiple occasions in the past. It’s a song written by Fanny Crosby in 1868 (melody by William H. Doane) and it seems to me to carry with it both its own heart-rending poignancy and a sense of intertwinement with so many of the strands of American sacred music.
One of those strands is the art of shape-note singing. I’m grateful to a reader, Don, who shares, on YouTube, some recordings of shape-note singing in which he himself partakes. Below and at this link is a great rendition of Pass Me Not O Gentle Savior from May 17th last at Etowah United Methodist Church in North Carolina.
Another closely related strand is bluegrass music, of the kind so beautifully played by the Stanley Brothers. It may well be that Dylan learned this song from their version, which you can also hear at the moment on YouTube. Click here or turn on the radio below.