Folk Song Of The American Negro - Online Book

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114
FOLK SONG OF THE AMERICAN NEGRO.
mankind every day. There is not one good point in anything which we do not fancy, nothing undesirable in anything we choose to like. It is sometimes the case that, by tact and persistence this un�friendly class is brought into a friendly attitude toward this music. There was noteworthy and interesting proof of this at Fisk Univer�sity. It is clearly paradoxical that for many years it was impossible to induce the students of Fisk to sing these songs, even after that famous first company had sung this institution into new life. For years one would be as likely to hear Negro Folk Songs in St. Peter's at Rome as in Fisk University. But Fisk had no ordinary presi�dent. Erastus Milo Cravath was a man of big faith, broad vision, great wisdom and heroic courage, and he knew as well as any living man along what lines the education of the Negro youth should be wrought out. He recognized the importance of the Negro music in the development of the race, and consequently worked to have it incorporated into the life of Fisk. He had a discriminating under�standing of this music. He was not a musician, but a philosopher who loved music. To him it was history and prophecy. He was thoroughly convinced that no system of education for the Negro race was complete without his music. His big faith was expressed in the Song of Faith:
"You may bury me in the East, You may bury me in the West, But I'll hear the trumpet sound, In that morning."
Dr. Cravath had a fine helper in Professor Adam K. Spence, who led the music in chapel, and who was largely responsible for the salvation of the Negro music. When Professor Spence would rise in chapel services and "start" one of these songs, requesting the stu�dents to "join in," they would "join in" with a chorus of cold silence. They knew enough to comprehend slavery dialect and bad grammar, and they would have none of either. Elijah, Messiah, and Creation were different and meant better things than the times and condi�tions represented by these songs. But Professor Spence would ana�lyze and explain individual songs and show their beauty. This he did day in and day out, illustrating with his own sweet voice and sweeter soul the virtues expressed by the music, until he finally led them to an understanding; and now, at all religious services, these








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