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.