ON THE TRAIL OF NEGRO FOLK-SONGS

A Collection Of Negro Traditional & Folk Songs with Sheet Music Lyrics & Commentaries - online book

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28
NEGRO FOLK-SONGS
The ol' a'k's A-Movm'
The ol' a'k's a-movin', A-movin' along, chillun, The ol' a'k's movin', A-movin' right along. Hebben's so high An' I 'm so low, Don't know whuther I'll git thar or no. The ol' a'k's a-movin', A-movin' along, chillun, The or a'k's a-movin', A-movin' right along.
In 1923, just after the publication of my novel, "In the Land of Cotton,5' which contains a number of Negro folk-songs, I went back to Texas on a visit and spent a part of my time in research after others. In Fort Worth, the choir leader of the Mount Gilead Bap­tist Church, and her husband, the director of the colored Y. M. C. A., called on me at Mayor CockrelPs home, to express appreciation of my interest in the folk-music of their race, and offered to put on a special service of spirituals in place of the sermon at their evening service. They asked me if I would speak on the religious aspects of folk-song, and announcement was made that white people were in­vited. Half the house was reserved for white visitors, and so great is the love for the beautiful old songs that every seat was taken. The musical service was a moving and impressive one, many of the fine old spirituals being sung by the well-trained choir. I spoke briefly of the dignity and value of Negro folk-song, and urged that efforts be made to preserve the old songs. I said in closing that there was only one request I had to make in connection with my funeral, which I hoped was some time in the future. I should not be at all satisfied unless some of my colored friends were there and sang, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot. As I sat down, the choir and congregation softly took up the strains:
Swing low, sweet chario-ot,
Comin' for to carry me home!
I felt for the moment as if I were attending my own obsequies, and wondered if the instant response were a hint that an early demise was desirable. When the song was over, an elderly man, a teacher in a Negro high school in another town, rose and said: "This is one of