Sunday, January 01, 2012

Samuel Asbury on camp meeting singing in Frank Dobie's Tone the Bell Easy

Samuel E. Asbury (1872-1962) on camp meetings ... brief bio of Asbury in UNC's Southern Historical Collection. His family was active in camp meetings, as circuit riders, etc.

[p. 169 - cf. “the present abominable Sunday-school stuff, instead of the grand old hymns and the beautiful Old-Time White Camp Meeting Spirituals.”
… fifty years ago, when I was a boy ten years old …]

There was no instrument, not even the tuning fork. Those old-timers held that the Devil came in with the organ and the choir, and God went out. Some brass-lunged relative of mine pitched the tune. If he pitched it in the skies, no matter. The men singing the leading part with him were as brass-lunged as he. As for the women, they placed an octave over the men’s leading part, singing around high C with perfect unconcern because they didn’t realize their feat. The immediate din was tremendous; at a hundred yards it was beautiful; and at a distance of a half mile it was magnificent. (170)

Samuel E. Asbury and Henry E. Meyer, “Old-Time White Camp-Meeting Spirituals.” Tone the Bell Easy. Ed. Frank Dobie. 1932. Austin: Texas Folklore Society, 1965. UNT Digital Library, University of North Texas.

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