Saturday, February 21, 2009

old memories

I was typing a story up to add to the family geneology website and realized it might make a blog entry, so here you go:

I learned many songs from my parents, but there’s one song I never heard from anyone except Mother. The way she sang it, it was entitled “In A Lonely Village Churchyard”.

She told me she learned it in Arkansas during a visit to Aunt Ada’s. Now, the old folks always said “Adie” for Ada, and “Emmie” for Aunt Emma, although my grandmother Clara wasn't known as "Clarie" for some reason; at least not to my knowledge.

Mother laughed at the memory of her cousins in Arkansas lifting up various floorboards in the house to gather eggs; it seems their chickens had free run under the house.

Aunt Ada’s family had a record player of some sort, no doubt a wind-up one. I don’t know if the records were the old cylinder kind, or the discs that came later. These days I think of so many things I would ask Mother if she were around.

Here are the words to the song Mother taught me:

“In a lonely village churchyard
There I see a mossy mound.
That is where my mother’s sleeping
In the cold and silent ground.

I was young but well remember
On the night my mother died
When she saw her spirit fading,
Then she called me to her side

Saying "Darling, I must leave you;
Angel's voice will guide you on.
There'll be no one left to love you
When your mother dear is gone.

Oft I wander to that church yard
Flowers to plant with tender care
On the grave of my dear mother:
Darkness finds me weeping there,

Looking at the stars above me,
Waiting for the day to dawn.
Angels watch while I am thinking
Of the resurrection morn."

After I got on the Internet and learned about Google, I tried in vain to find the words of the song and figure out who sang it. Finally I stumbled onto similar lyrics in a collection of Carter Family songs, only it was about a dead sweetheart instead of a mother.

Now I've studied A.P. Carter quite a bit, and I know he went back into the hills collecting folk songs, then changing them just a teeny bit to make them his own. That's very likely what happened in this case.


Helen said...

I have never seen a player like the first one, just pictures. One of my aunts had one like the second one and it played the 78 rpm records. That was a mighty sad song that your mother taught you. Helen

Lori said...

Thank you for sharing that! I love the lyrics and would love to hear the melody. There are some songs that my parents passed on to us that I've never heard anywhere else. I'll have to start writing them down.

Barbara In Caneyhead said...

Fascinating! And what a lovely song!