Gospel Plow

The Cinch Review

Gospel Plow by Bob Dylan
The gospel reading in many Christian churches today would’ve been from Luke, chapter nine, and included this passage where Jesus has some interesting responses to those who, impressed by his teaching, expressed a desire to follow him.

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

As some preachers may have reminded some congregations today, if you begin plowing and then stop and look back, you’re not going to be able to plow a straight furrow.

This metaphor inspired some person, sometime, to compose what has now become a traditional gospel song, known alternatively as “Gospel Plow” or “Keep Your Hand on the Plow” or simply “Hold On.” I first heard it and automatically think of it via the version that Bob Dylan recorded on his debut and eponymous LP in 1962. He could have heard it via multiple sources, including Odetta’s version, which was captured at Carnegie Hall in 1960. Continue reading “Gospel Plow”