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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TRADITIONAL SONGS AND BALLADS              55
" You lay my Bible at my head,
And my prayer-book at my feet, And if any of my playmates ask for me, Just tell them I've gone to sleep."
This was published in the University of Virginia Magazine, De­cember, 1912, and also in Professor Smith's article in the Musical Quarterly.
It is interesting that the Negro variant that Mrs. Dashiell knew has discarded the element of Jewish persecution and transformed the theme into a general terror tale, while the Negro version from Alabama has retained the older motivation. Since the Negroes have not been associated directly with any idea of Jews murdering Chris­tians in this fashion, it is natural that the theme should fade away in their rendering of the song. Here, as in the version of Lady Isabel and the Elf-Knight, the ballad form is changed to the first person.
Lord Lovel, as might be expected of one of the best-known bal­lads, appears in a Negro version in North Carolina. It was taken down from the singing of Mr. Busbee, who learned it in his childhood from his Negro nurse, Mammy Mahaly.
LORD LOVEL
Lord Lovel, he stood at his castle wall,
A-combin' his milk-white steed; Lady Nancy Bell came a-ridin' by,
To wish her fond lover good speed, speed, speed,
To wish her fond lover good speed.
"Oh, where are you goin', Lord Lovel?" she said.
"Oh, where are you goin'?" said she. "I'm gohV away for a year an' a day,
Strange countries for to see, see, see,
Strange countries for to see."