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             6l
This is reported from the singing of an old Negro in Spottsyl-vania County, Virginia, who originally belonged to a family in Orange County.
Miss Martha Davis, of Winthrop College, Rock Hill, South Caro­lina, writes to Professor Smith of the finding of this old ballad in South Carolina:
"A few months ago several of the teachers here went to hear a Negro preacher one night, a picturesque exhorter of the old type. They came back with a story, marvelous to them, of Joseph and May Virgin pickin' cherries from a cherry tree, a part of the Gospel, according to the preacher. Well, old ballads are often found in strange company."
Lord Arnold's Wife (Child, No. 81) has been heard sung by Negroes in Campbell County, Virginia.
Mr. John Stone, now president of the Virginia Folk-lore Society, reports that he has heard of the Negroes in Virginia singing several of the songs about which I wrote to inquire. "But I myself have col­lected only a fragment of Dandoo, which was learned from a white man, a tune to the Cherry Tree Carol, and a tune to Pretty Polly."
Child, in his third volume, page 515, says that Lamkin has been sung in Prince William County by Negroes who learned it from Scotch settlers.
Professor Smith says that the ballad Our Goodman, or Hame Cant Our Gudeman, which has spread from Great Britain into Germany, Hungary, and Scandinavia, is sung among the Negroes of Campbell County, Virginia, as Hobble and Bobble.
This humorous old ballad has had wide circulation as a broadside, having been translated into German in 1789. Its simple form of structure and its cleverness of folk-humor are such as would natu­rally appeal to colored people.
A song which Professor Kittredge writes me is an old Irish song has been adopted over here among the Negroes so successfully that even some folk-lorists put it down as a Negro ballad.1 An article in Lippincottfs Magazine for December, 1869, says:
"Many years ago there originated a Negro ballad founded on the incidents of a famous horse-race, on which large sums were staked.
1 Professor Kittredge says: "Skewball is Irish. I enclose a text. The piece is com­mon in English broadsides. Readings vary in details. You will note that the Squire is the owner, not the judge. It 5s obviously absurd for the Squire to talk to the rider (as in stanza 5). Probably, if we had a correct text, it would be Skewball who addresses the rider — just as he spoke to his master in an earlier stanza. That would be a good touch. And, in fact, in one version (in a broadside) I find — in addition to the stanza in which the Squire speaks to the rider — the following: