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“Down to the River to Pray:” The Perfect Song for the Movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?


If you have watched the classic movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? then you must have loved their official soundtrack. In fact, their OST is probably one of the best collection of music in a movie. One song stands out for me. The song “Down to the River to Pray” is first heard in the baptism scene.

Let us get into the story behind the song and its significant impact in the movie.

down in the river, alison krauss
via Screengrab from YouTube

The Symbol for “Down to the River to Pray”

The song “Down to the River to Pray” plays an important plot device for the movie. Our protagonists just escaped from prison when they encountered a group of people singing the song. They later found out that it was a baptism that they were witnessing. They were enthralled by the singing so much so that one of the protagonists immediately joined the baptism hoping that his sins will be forgiven.

down to the river, alison krauss
via Screengrab from YouTube

He also tried to convince his friends to do it with the promise of a better life. With the continuation of their story, you can see his character grow. There were times when he could have reverted back to his old bad self but he chose not to. At the end of the movie, they even saved their African-American friend from the KKK and that was the best thing they did in the entire movie.

Alison Krauss’ Captivating Version

down to the river, alison krauss
Alison Krauss/Photo credit: kebekmac.blogspot.com

Alison Krauss’ performance was perfect for the song. Her voice is just so soothing and she has the angelic voice perfect for the track. When you hear the song, it feels like you are undergoing the baptism yourself. Her version got more buzz when it was featured in an episode of the popular TV show, Handmaid’s Tale.

Her performance felt more spiritual with the accompanying choir. It’s such a good rendition of “Down to the River to Pray,” and I encourage you to listen to it.

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