Afro-American Folksongs - online book

A Study In Racial And National Music, With Sample Sheet Music & Lyrics.

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STRUCTURE OF THE POEMS; FUNERAL MUSIC
0 graveyard! 0 graveyard! I'm walkin' troo de graveyard— Lay dis body down.
It was Mr. Allen's ingenious surmise that this was the song which was heard by Mr. W. H. Russell, war corre­spondent of the London "Times" and which he described in Chapter XVIII of "My Diary, North and South." He is telling of a midnight row from Potaligo to "Mr. Trewcott's Estate" on Barnwell Island:
The oarsmen, as they bent to their task, beguiled the way by singing in unison a real negro melody, which was as unlike the works of the Ethiopian Serenaders as anything in song could be unlike another. It was a barbaric sort of madrigal, in which one singer beginning was followed by the others in unison, repeating the refrain in chorus, and full of quaint expression and melancholy:
Oh, your soul! Oh, my soul!
Fm going to the churchyard
To lay this body down;
Oh, my soul! Oh, your soul! We're going to the churchyard To lay this nigger down.
And then some appeal to the difficulty of gassing the "Tawdan" constituted the whole of the song, which continued with unabated energy during the whole of the little voyage. To me it was a strange scene. The stream, dark as Lethe, flowing between the silent, houseless, rugged banks, lighted up near the landing by the fire in the woods, which reddened the sky—the wild strain and the unearthly adjurations to the singer's souls as though they were pal­pable, put me in mind of the fancied voyage across the Styx.
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III