Folk Song Of The American Negro - Online Book

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BIRTH AND GROWTH OF CERTAIN SONGS.                    87
should be purchased and freed. The last account of him was that he was still pursuing his quest somewhere in North Carolina, with this song upon his lips:
"Nobody knows the trouble I see, Lord, Nobody knows the trouble I see; Nobody knows the trouble I see, Lord; Nobody knows like Jesus."
"Good morning, Everybody!"
The place and time of this song's birth are uncertain, but it is certain that it grew out of the following conditions: The test of "true heart-felt religion" among Negroes is love for everybody and the one way of showing this love is to "speak" to everybody, espe�cially to those with whom one has not been upon agreeable terms. It was the custom of the new convert, or the Christian who "got happy" to run first, if possible, to those who were his enemies, shake hands, embrace, and tell what a "dear loving Saviour" he had found; that his soul was "alive" and that he had nothing against anybody. The never-failing sign of hypocrisy in religion was a refusal to ex�press love for, or to speak to, everybody. The originator of this song was simply meeting the test of "true, heart-felt religion" when he went into the field to work with the salutation, "Good mornin', every�body." It was in this state of happiness that the Negro sang of "heaven an* immortal glory" with all the robes, crowns, slippers, gates, streets, which made Heaven so real to him.
"Go down, Moses�"
"Way down in Egypt land, tell ole Pharaoh Let my people go."
While this song is a simple chronicle of an event in biblical history, it is just as plainly preaching freedom "in a Bibleistic way." The stanzas are quite numerous, running up to thirty-six in one edi�tion of folk songs, but doubtless many are spurious. The very best explanation of this song is given in Dunbar's "Antebellum Sermon," where an old Negro preacher is interpreting slavery in terms of

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