Folk Song Of The American Negro - Online Book

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76
FOLK SONG OF THE AMERICAN NEGRO.
CHAPTER VI.
Birth and Growth op Certain Songs, with Exposition.
"Music is a fair and glorious gift of God; I would not for the world, renounce my humble share in Music."
I N a general way, we know how this music as a whole was pro�duced; that is, the conditions and forces which gave it birth. Facts and theories have been presented in foregoing chapters. The vagueness and uncertainty surrounding its beginning clothe it in a fascinating mystery, imparting an aspect of the supernatural. In the cases of some individual songs, however, we have definite and accurate knowledge of birth and growth. Parts of the history of some songs are so extraordinary that many receive them "cum grano salis," but even in these instances it is morally certain the events occurred as narrated. Many of these melodies had their birth dur�ing the seasons of religious meetings. Masters generally granted the privilege of holding such meetings, for they had a certain degree of faith in the slave's religion. It made him a-better slave and kept his mind from plottings. Sometimes the overseer was present, some�times not. Sometimes the slave was even allowed to attend the mas�ter's church. The slave's soul demanded communion with God quite as unfailingly as his body demanded food. Some masters, however, did not believe either in the slave's religion or his God.
Some masters who did not believe in the slave's God or in his religion had some extraordinary experiences. In Southern Ken�tucky, a slave, John by name, was known for his piety, religion, and seasons of prayer and praise. Like Daniel in Babylon, nothing could prevent him from turning his face toward Jerusalem in prayer. The time came when John had to be sold. The master who was about to buy him said, "John, they tell me that you are one of these great praying niggers. Now, I want to tell you that when I buy you, all that stuff must stop." "As a heart unspotted is not easily daunted," John answered, "Massa, ef dat's de case, you better not buy me, for I'se boun' to pray, and I'se goin' to pray." "All right, we'll see about that/' said the master, and John was bought. It was not long before








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