Folk Song Of The American Negro - Online Book

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36
FOLK SONG OF THE AMERICAN NEGRO,
"Great camp meeting."
"Shout all over God's Heaven."
"What kind o' shoes you goin' to wear?"
Though these songs indicate a certain imagination they also show clearly that Heaven to the Negro slave was a real place with crowns of victory for all who bear the cross in the "low ground of sorrow." In marshaling biblical facts and history, some of these songs are astonishing, interesting, and in the display of ingenuity in fitting these facts to rhythm, are comparable to Homer's "Catalogue of the Ships."
(1)   "We read in the Bible and we understand,
Methusaleh was the oldest man;
He lived nine hundred and sixty-nine,
He died and went to Heaven, Lord, in a-due time."
(2)   "We read in the Bible and we understand,
Samson was the strongest man;
Samson went out at a-one time,
Killed about a thousand of the Philistine;
Delilah fooled Samson, this we know�
The Holy Bible tells us so.
She shaved off his hair, just as clean as your han',
His strength became as any other man."
(3)   "Joshua was the son of Nun;
God was with him, till the work was done; He opened the window and began to look out, The ram's horn blew, an' the children did shout, The children did shout, till the hour of seven; The walls fell down, an' God heard it in Heaven."
"My soul is a witness�"
There are still other stanzas to this song, but these suffice to make clear the thought. Someone has stated that if the Bible should be lost, it could be recovered and reconstructed from the mind of the Negro. This seems to be and doubtless is an extravagant statement, but conversation with a Negro preacher, even of the uneducated class, will oftentimes cause wonder that such a one could be so full of an accurate knowledge of the Bible text. Some who can read just a little, and some who cannot read at all, can go on and on with cita�tions and references, giving rapidly and off-hand, the book, chapter,








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