“Last Words of Copernicus” in Bruce Springsteen’s “Death to My Hometown”

Update: I’ve co-written (with John Plunkett) an expanded account of Bruce Springsteen’s sampling of “Last Words of Copernicus” for the first issue of The Sacred Harp Publishing Company Newsletter: “Bruce Springsteen’s Sacred Harp Sample.”

Bruce Springsteen’s new song “Death to My Hometown” samples Alan Lomax’s 1959 recording of “Last Words of Copernicus”—an 1869 tune from The Sacred Harp composed by Georgia-based Sacred Harp singer Sarah Lancaster. A setting of a stanza from a 1755 hymn by Philip Doddridge, Lancaster’s tune creatively re-imagines the words as having been spoken by the sixteenth-century astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus.