Allen &c.: Slave Songs of the United States (1867)

Here’s a fascinating book of slave songs collected during & immediately after the war by Allen, Ware, & Garrison:

SlaveSongs-TitlePage on >>

ALSO: Text + images of book @ >>

The first paragraphs of the introduction provide a taste of the authors’ approach & intent:

The musical capacity of the negro race has been recognized for so many years that it is hard to explain why no systematic effort has hitherto been made to collect and preserve their melodies. More than thirty years ago those plantation songs made their appearance which were so extraordinarily popular for a while ; and if “Coal-black Rose,” “Zip Coon” and “Ole Virginny nebber tire” have been succeeded by spurious imitations, manufactured to suit the somewhat sentimental taste of our community, the fact that these were called “negro melodies” was itself a tribute to the musical genius of the race.

The public had well-nigh forgotten these genuine slave songs, and with them the creative power from which they sprung, when a fresh interest was excited through the educational mission to the Port Royal islands, in 1861. The agents of this mission were not long in discovering the rich vein of music that existed in these half-barbarous people, and when visitors from the North were on the islands, there was nothing that seemed better worth their while than to see a ” shout” or hear the “people” sing their “sperichils.” A few of these last, of special merit,* soon became established favorites among the whites, and hardly a Sunday passed at the church on St. Helena without “Gabriel’s Trumpet,” “I hear from Heaven to-day,” or “Jehovah Hallelujah.”  The last time I myself heard these was at the Fourth of July celebration, at the church, in 1864.  All of them were sung, and then the glorious shout, “I can’t stay behind, my Lord,” was struck up, and sung by the entire multitude with a zest and spirit, a swaying of the bodies and nodding of the heads and lighting of the countenance and rhythmical movement of the hands, which I think no one present will ever forget…

The book contains 136 songs:

  1. Roll, Jordan, roll
  2. Jehovah, Hallelujah
  3. I hear from Heaven to-day
  4. Blow your trumpet, Gabriel
  5. Praise, member
  6. Wrestle on, Jacob
  7. The Lonesome Valley
  8. I can’t stay behind
  9. Poor Rosy
  10. The Trouble of the World
  11. There’s a meeting here to-night
  12. Hold your light
  13. Happy Morning
  14. No man can hinder me
  15. Lord, remember me
  16. Not weary yet
  17. Religion so sweet
  18. Hunting for the Lord
  19. Go in the wilderness
  20. Tell my Jesus “Morning.”
  21. The Graveyard
  22. John, John, of the Holy Order
  23. I saw the beam in my sister’s eye
  24. Hunting for a city
  25. Gwine follow
  26. Lay this body down
  27. Heaven bell a-ring
  28. Jine ’em
  29. Rain fall and wet Becca Lawton
  30. Bound to go
  31. Michael row the boat ashore
  32. Sail, O believer
  33. Rock o’ Jubilee
  34. Stars begin to fall
  35. King Emanuel
  36. Satan’s Camp A-Fire
  37. Give up the world
  38. Jesus on the Waterside
  39. I wish I been dere
  40. Build a house in Paradise
  41. I know when I’m going home
  42. I’m a trouble in de mind
  43. Travel on
  44. Archangel, open the door
  45. My body rock ‘long fever
  46. Bell da ring
  47. Pray all de member
  48. Turn sinner, turn O
  49. My army cross over
  50. Join the angel band
  51. I an’ Satan had a race
  52. Shall I die?
  53. When we do meet again
  54. The White Marble Stone
  55. I can’t stand the fire
  56. Meet, O Lord
  57. Wai’, Mr.~Mackright
  58. Early in the morning
  59. Hail, Mary
  60. No more rain fall for wet you
  61. I want to go home
  62. Good-bye, brother
  63. Fare ye well
  64. Many thousand go
  65. Brother Moses gone
  66. The Sin-sick Soul
  67. Some Valiant Soldier
  68. Hallelu, Hallelu
  69. Children do linger
  70. Good-bye
  71. Lord, make me more patient
  72. The Day of Judgment
  73. The Resurrection Morn
  74. Nobody knows the trouble I’ve had
  75. Who is on the Lord’s side
  76. Hold out to the end
  77. Come go with me
  78. Every hour in the day
  79. In the mansions above
  80. Shout on, children
  81. Jesus, won’t you come by-and-by?
  82. Heave away
  83. Wake up, Jacob
  84. On to Glory
  85. Just Now
  86. Shock along, John
  87. Round the corn, Sally
  88. Jordan’s Mills
  89. Sabbath has no end
  90. I don’t feel weary
  91. The Hypocrite and the Concubine
  92. O shout away
  93. O’er the Crossing
  94. Rock o’ my Soul
  95. We will march thro’ the valley
  96. What a trying time
  97. Almost Over
  98. Don’t be weary, traveller
  99. Let God’s saints come in
  100. The Golden Altar
  101. The Winter
  102. The Heaven Bells
  103. The Gold Band
  104. The Good Old Way
  105. I’m going home
  106. Sinner won’t die no more
  107. Brother, guide me home
  108. Little children, then won’t you be glad?
  109. Charleston Gals
  110. Run, nigger, run
  111. I’m gwine to Alabamy
  112. My Father, how long?
  113. I’m in trouble
  114. O Daniel
  115. O brother, don’t get weary
  116. I want to join the band
  117. Jacob’s Ladder
  118. Pray on
  119. Good news, Member
  120. I want to die like-a Lazarus die
  121. Away down in Sunbury
  122. This is the trouble of the world
  123. Lean on the Lord’s side
  124. These are all my Father’s children
  125. The Old Ship of Zion
  126. Come along, Moses
  127. The Social Band
  128. God got plenty o’ room
  129. You must be pure and holy
  130. Belle Layotte
  131. Remon
  132. Aurore Bradaire
  133. Caroline
  134. Calinda
  135. Lolotte
  136. Musieu Bainjo

PBS “History Detectives” featured “Slave Songs…” in this 2009 episode:

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