Folk Song Of The American Negro - Online Book

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BIRTH AND GROWTH OF CERTAIN SONGS.
83
This song was the favorite of Dr. E. M. Cravath, the first presi�dent of Fisk University.
"Great camp meeting";
"Goin' to moan and never tire."
This song was made by a company of slaves who were not allowed to sing or pray in the hearing of their master. And when he died, the old mistress, looking upon them with pity, granted them the privilege of singing and praying in their cabins at night. Then they sang their hymn, shouted for joy, and gave God honor and praise. This song, magnificent in composition, subtle in application, pre�sents an extremely interesting study. It pictures Heaven as a great camp meeting. The Negro's imagination could find no more satisfy�ing analogy. The camp meeting was an occasion of joy, which ex�pressed itself in eating, drinking, singing, praying, shouting, and resting from fields of corn, cotton, and rice, and all the while there was communion with God. Heaven could be no more, except that this meeting went on forever. There they would sing, shout, moan, and never tire. It seems, at first, strange that there should be any moaning in the Negro's Heaven. But this was a paradox. The "moan" was joyful. In the big meetings, there was a certain set of church members set aside to lead in the moaning, a low plaintive fragment of melody, sometimes a hum and sometimes accompanied by words of striking character. This is done to help the preacber as he pours out his sermon, which is generally a vivid description of hell and destruction awaiting the sinner. This moan is the accom�paniment to the sermon and the combination has sometimes wonder�ful effect upon the unconverted. History records that Gaius Grac�chus used to deliver his great orations to the Koman people to the accompaniment of a stringed instrument. The most effective Greek oration was that which was most melodious. Melody is always ef�fective, especially that which is spontaneous. No one who ever heard the moan could fail to be deeply impressed. From the rural districts of West Tennessee came the one that follows:
"O Lord, O Lord, O Lord! Somebody's dying, somebody's dying, somebody's dying Every day, every day, every day."
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III