Folk Song Of The American Negro - Online Book

Background, histories, development & commentary

Home Main Menu Singing & Playing Order & Order Info Support Search Voucher Codes

Share page  Visit Us On FB

Previous Contents Next
22                      FOLK SONG OF THE AMERICAN NEGRO.
Another curious as well as interesting addition made by the American Negro is a real groan which he introduces. There were times when the very depths of pain and sorrow were sounded, the awfulness of which was beyond his power to speak, but the pent-up feelings must find some expression which would as nearly as possible, represent in essence the pain itself. The spontaneity of his nature brought forth the little linguistic anomaly "urn," How well it serves its purpose! How completely does it give expression to that emo�tion for which words are too weak! In the revival services when sinners were called to the "mourners' bench" to mourn and mourn and mourn in their struggles to "get religion," the Christians ago�nized to help them "come through." They prayed, sang, and wept. Under such conditions, the following song was born:
"Po* mourner's got a home at last�"
Under the power of this song, many a sinner has been convicted of wickedness and converted to a new life. Strangely enough, this linguistic anomaly was used to express not only depths of sorrow but also the heights of joy. There were times in the Negro's life when his joy and hope were beyond all words or too good and sweet to be spoken, and this was the only way in which he could express himself. The expectation of rest from unrequited toil gave birth to this song:
"Um�Most done toilin' here�"
There is one more notable difference in the song of the American Negro which is a sublime improvement upon the song of his ances�tors. It may be an omission, intentional or unintentional. It cer�tainly is a subtraction or an elmination. Whatever it is, it has the quality of the divine. In all his song there is neither trace nor hint of hatred or revenge. It is most assuredly divine in human nature, that such a stupendous burden as human bondage, with all its in�herent sorrows and heart breakings could fail to arouse in the heart of the slave sentiments of hatred and revenge against his master.
Doubtless the essence of the Negro character epitomized and con�centrated in the character of one man, furnished the lofty inspiration that gave birth to the expression, "No man can drag me so low as to

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III