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270                    CURIOSITIES OF MUSIC
play it yourself even if you knew how to do it."* The national hymn of this monarch, bears considerable resemblance to the first part of the well known air—"Three Blind Mice."f
We have not space to describe fully the rites and music of that curious people, the Abyssinians; two examples of their musical ceremonies must suffice.
A funeral procession (reported by an American eye witness) consisted of about one hundred and fifty people, old and young, preceded by a few priests; every few minutes the cortege would halt to shriek and howl. The priests (clad in cotton robes with broad scarlet bands) were acting in a frantic manner; tearing off their turbans, pulling their hair, then folding their hands on their breasts and looking inexpressibly miserable.
They carried Arabic parchment books, illumin­ated with quaint figures and devices, and now and then chanted prayers to some favorite saint,f very dolefully, though with strong lungs and nasal intonation. Numerous genuflections were made, always accompanied with long drawn howls of extreme agony. At the lowering of the body into the grave, they chanted a prayer, of which the following is a translation,—
" Werkena, son of Yasous, who was the son of Tekee, is dead. Rejoice, oh ye people! He has gone to his rest with Abraham, with Isaac, and
• IgmaUU.p. 856.
t See " Ismailia," p. 872.
t It will be recollected that the Abyssinian* belong to a sect of the Christian Church






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