Mudcat Café message #4091896 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #169275   Message #4091896
Posted By: Joe Offer
06-Feb-21 - 10:33 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Add: Sail, O Believer
Subject: ADD Version: Sail, O Believer
SAIL, O BELIEVER

Sail, O believer, sail
Sail over yonder
Sail, O my brother, sail,
Sail over yonder.

Come view the promised land,
Sail over yonder,
Come view the promised land,
Sail over yonder.

O brother lend a hand,
Sail over yonder,
O brother lend a hand,
Sail over yonder.

O Mary, weep,
Sail over yonder,
Bow low, Martha,
Sail over yonder.

For Jesus comes,
Sail over yonder,
And Jesus locks the door,
Sail over yonder.

For Jesus comes,
Sail over yonder,
And carries the keys away,
Sail over yonder.

Sail, O believer, sail,
Sail over yonder,
Sail, O my brother, sail,
Sail over yonder.

Notes:
For the Negro slave, a spiritual was something to live with, work with, pray with. American rivers and shores echoed to these melodies wherever slave stevedores worked, wherever slave oarsmen plied the longboats sailing from plantation to plantation.
Frances Ann Kemble, famous British actress, who resided in 1839 on her husband’s sea island plantations at the estuary of the Altamaha river in Georgia, heard many of these boat songs. Her husband’s plantations were on two islands separated by a distance of several miles, and she frequently traveled back and forth by boat. She has left the following commentary on the boat songs she heard:
“Sail, O Believer” is a boat song that was sung by the slaves on the sea island of St. Helena; its place of origin is in the Hebrides. Changed into a spiritual, it illustrates the remarkable way in which Negro people assimilated the American musical heritage as a means to their own profound and creative expression.
Pp 197-198 in The Ballad of America, by John Anthony Scott (Grosset & Dunlap, New York, 1967)


Melody transcribed on request.