Folk Song Of The American Negro - Online Book

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BIRTH AND GROWTH OF CERTAIN, SONGS.             " 77
this master missed John, and npon learning from the slave's own lips that he had been praying, his wrath blazed in angry flame, and with curses he tore John's flesh with the cruel lash. He did his best to kill him. That night, the master lay down in complacency, while John lay down in torture. But peace and complacency soon flew away on the dark wings of the night, and the master was troubled in mind. His soul was like the stormy sea. He left his bed and walked the floor. The love of a wife could not comfort him, and the physician he refused to see, for the physician could not reach his case. The God of John and of John's religion had convicted the master of his sinfulness. When no help came to his tempestuous soul, in his extremity he said, "Send for John." With labored step, John struggled to the big house with a prayer upon his lips, and when the master saw him, he cried, "John, pray for me." In bloody pain, John sank down upon his knees and prayed for his weeping master, that his sins might be forgiven, and his soul made white in the blood of the Lamb! God heard that prayer, and the light of a new life broke in upon the master's vision. "Eedeemed!" he cried. In refer ence to John, the remainder of the master's life was expressed in these words, aThe best investment I ever made, the best money I ever spent, was when I bought John." John was cast into the den of lions, but they harmed him not.
On a plantation doivn on the Bed Kiver, in the early part of the nineteenth century, a master of a large number of slaves was accus�tomed to allow them to go across the river, at stated times, that they might worship with the Indians, who had a mission there. Upon the days of these services, the slaves crossed the river in many an ingenious craft. They always enjoyed themselves, and talked much of the good times on the other side. But one day the master learned that the missionary to the Indians was a northern man; and, believ�ing that he might put ideas of freedom in the heads of his slaves, even if "in a Bibleistic way," as Dunbar says, which might lead them to travel the nightly path toward the North Star, he forthwith pur�sued the logical course and prohibited his slaves from worshiping any more across the river. Doubtless the master thought the matter was settled then and there, but not so; the slaves could not forget the good times across the river; and what they could not do in the open they determined to do in secret. They decided to "steal away to Jesus," as one slave expressed it. "Steal away to Jesus/' whis-








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