Mudcat Café message #1921440 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #97553   Message #1921440
Posted By: Azizi
29-Dec-06 - 02:19 PM
Thread Name: Religious Train & Chariot Songs
Subject: RE: Religious Train & Chariot Songs
The spiritual "Good News" is in the DigiTrad at @displaysong.cfm?SongID=2352

Here's how the chorus is given in the DigiTrad:

"Good news,the chariot's a-comin'
Good news,the chariot's a-comin'
Good news,the chariot's a-comin'
And I don't want a-leave me behind"

-snip-

However, here's how I remember singing this spiritual from my childhood on:

Good news,chariot's comin'
Good news, chariot's comin'
Good news, chariot's comin'
And I don't want it to leave me behind

-snip-

These are minor differences, but I think they demonstrate what appears to me to be a difference in White & Black approaches to African American spirituals.

It appears to me [from the outside looking in] that White folks are much more interested than Black folks in retaining the dialectic language in which spirituals were first recorded and/or written down.

Based on my experience, I believe that there are very few contemporary [1970s on] African Americans vocalists and choirs who sing spirituals. And those African American vocalists and choirs who do include spirituals in their reperatoire, rarely if ever use dialectic Black slave languaging. But it would be more accurate to say that certain words from Black dialect are acceptable and others are considered to be very unacceptable. For instance, "comin" is fine, but "de"[for "the"] or "gwine" [for "goin"]is absolutely not fine.

Also, using the DigiTrad example of "Good News", it appears to me that sometimes Black slave dialect phrasing is combined in an incongruent manner with standard mainstream English. Consider, for example, the line "the chariot's a-comin'.

While I'm glad that the DigiTrad version doesn't give this line as "Good news, de chariot's a-comin", I have to wonder why sometimes dialect is retained in these versions and sometimes it's not.

And, for what it's worth, I think that including the word "the" in that line messes up its rhythm.

Or maybe it's just force of habit. Since I grew up singing "Good news, chariot's comin", any other way this line is given seems wrong to me.