I made a new mp3 this morning of my Grandfather telling a story and singing a song (link). This seems to be a set piece among ministers in the Church of God denomination.
I remember hearing the minister, Herb Thompson, perform this much the same way.
The racism in this song is a bit disturbing to me. Hearing my Grandfather talk about “darkys,” “Negroes,” and the “colored maid” and “colored folks” in the town is not pleasant to me. But I do think it’s good to hear this little story from the past told and sung by him.
I couldn’t find any references to this hymn in most of my books. However, in Ira Sankey’s book, My Life and the Story of the Gospel Hymns, it is mentioned.
This is a story I have found in several other places about how Mr. Peter P. Bihorn sang this song to “cowboys in the West” in 1883. Here’s a link to much the same story as in Sankey. Another online citation says this hymn was written in 1877.
This book is one of several I have inherited from Benjamin. This is the flyleaf.
They are treasured possessions.
I note that this song is in the denominational hymnals of the Church of God and that the tune is a bit straighter.
Pop Ben seems to have the variant in his ear, varying the initial melody and the second phrase.
I wonder about this being sung in a denomination that had a large black constituency (although the integrated congregations seems to have been a rarity). I’m going to continue to try to find out more about this little set piece. So far, googling hasn’t worked for me.
On another note, I spent three hours yesterday working Mr. Demitrius White, the new Holland High School band director, and his students. It was loads of fun.