Folk Song Of The American Negro - Online Book

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124                    FOLK SONG OF THE AMERICAN NEGRO.
were consulted, all possible byways and highways were searched, as many ex-slaves as possible were conferred with, and every available person who knew anything was questioned. From these sources there have been gathered about five hundred songs and fragments of songs. These have all been analyzed and their thoughts and sentiments gathered. These are the colors in which the soul is painted.
The first is the rich color of Home Love, as expressed in the home songs. It is a striking fact that the best known and the most dearly beloved of Stephen Foster's songs are his best imitations of the Ne�gro Folk Songs, and they sing the love of home. "The Old Folks at Home" and "Kentucky Home" are generally classed as Negro music. In his very life, the black man portrays himself a home-loving being. He is no willing wanderer, and whatever spot he adopts as his home has his full devotion. "Way Down Upon the Sewanee Kiver" paints for him a vision of love and happiness. So strong are these home ties that Heaven, Canaan, the Promised Land, and the Kingdom, mean nothing more nor less than home. As glorious as he knows Heaven to be with all its joys, peace, rest, crowns, harps, robes, angels, and God, home comprehends it all.
The next is the powerful color of prayer. It is one of the em�phatic forces of his soul.
"Ask and it shall be given, Seek and you shall find, Knock and the door shall be opened."
"Prayer is the key of Heaven."
If there is any life to which prayer means more than to that of the Negro, in what part of God's universe can it be found ? Who has tested the power of prayer more severely than he? Who has proved more than he its efficacy? Not only in his closet and on his knees has he lifted up his heart in petition, but he has sped his pleadings on the pinions of song.
"O Lord, O my Lord� O my Good Lord� Keep me from sinking down."
"Lord, I want to be like Jesus In-a my heart."