If I say anything more, I'll ruin it. The Scandinavian sense of humor is very dry.
[Follow this link to get to the video.]
Commercial arrangments of the song are usually published in G or A, but there's a nice version with chords and the melody in standard notation at:
Barbara Feick Gregory has dulcimer tab in DAD with lyrics and guitar chords at:
And the EverythingDulcimer.com website at http://www.everythingdulcimer.com/tab/#M -- scroll down the directory to "Michael ..." by Peter Widenmeyer. ("Einfaches Arrangement" is how they say "simple arrangement" in German). Or you can open the PDF file at
Most of us of a certain age know "Michael Row the Boat Ashore" as a summer camp song, one we sang in between "Kumbaya" and roasting marshmallows on a stick, but it is much older than that. First set to standard musical notation in 1863 in Port Royal, S.C., it was originally a work song, sung by African American slaves as they rowed across the waters surrounding the Sea Islands of the Carolina and Georgia low country. It was also a spiritual, in a day and a culture that didn't make distinctions between sacred and secular music. In fact it is one of the oldest black spirituals.
All of which gives it an energy and a surging call-and-response rhythm I don't think we quite captured in the Episcopal church camps of my youth.
Of the many versions available on YouTube, the one that I think comes the closest to the original is this performance by the Glory Gospel Singers, of New York City, in concert in Barmstedt, Germany, earlier this year:
The Glory Gospel Singers' sound strikes me as contemporary African American gospel, but "Michael" is one of the first spirituals written down by abolitionists from New England during the Civil War. It originated well before that, as a work song that kept boat crews rowing together. William Russell, a war correspondent for the Times of London who toured behind the Confederate lines in 1861, was reminded of the voyage that ferried lost souls over the River Styx to Hades in Greek mythology:
The oarsmen, as they bent to their task, beguiled the way by singing in unison a real [N]egro melody. ... It was a barbaric sort of madrigal, in which one singer beginning was followed by the others in unison, repeating the refrain in chorus, and full of quaint expression and melancholy:-- ... To me it was a strange scene. The stream, dark as Lethe, flowing between the silent, houseless, rugged banks, lighted up near the landing by the fire in the woods, which reddened the sky--the wild strain, and the unearthly adjurations to the singers' souls, as though they were palpable, put me in mind of the fancied voyage across the Styx.
"Michael" was collected in an 1867 book titled Slave Songs of the United States (available online from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill at http://docsouth.unc.edu/church/allen/allen.html), compiled by abolitionist teachers who worked with the freed slaves who fled to the federal lines after the Union Army landed in South Carolina and set up a supply depot around Port Royal. One of the teachers named William Francis Allen, who had heard similar work songs in seaports up north, explained how the call-and-response of African American singing helped dock workers pace themselves:
Some of the best pure [N]egro songs I have ever heard were those that used to be sung by the black stevedores, or perhaps the crews themselves, of the West India vessels, loading and unloading at the wharves in Philadelphia and Baltimore. I have stood for more than an hour, often, listening to them, as they hoisted and lowered the hogsheads and boxes of their cargoes; one man taking the burden [verse] of the song (and the slack of the rope) and the others striking in with the chorus. They would sing in this way more than a dozen different songs in an hour; most of which might indeed be warranted to contain 'nothing religious'--a few of them, 'on the contrary, quite the reverse'--but generally rather innocent and proper in their language, and strangely attractive in their music; and with a volume of voice that reached a square or two away.
Allen noted that the work songs combined sacred and secular lyrics -- "I know only one pure boat-song, the fine lyric, "Michael row the boat ashore" (No. 31 [in the book]); and this I have no doubt is a real spiritual -- it being the archangel Michael that is addressed." He quoted Charles Pickard Ware, who actually collected the song, at some length:
"As I have written these tunes," says Mr. Ware, "two measures are to be sung to each stroke, the first measure being accented by the beginning of the stroke, the second by the rattle of the oars in the row-locks. On the passenger boat at the [Beaufort] ferry, they rowed from sixteen to thirty strokes a minute; twenty-four was the average. Of the tunes I have heard, I should say that ... 'Lay this body down' (No. 26), 'Religion so sweet' (No.17), and 'Michael row' (No. 31), were used when the load was heavy or the tide was against us."
That's how Allen heard it, as he described it in a diary quoted by Dena Epstein in her Sinful Tunes and Spirituals: Black Folk Music to the Civil War (Urbana: U of I Press, 2003), which is probably the best book available on the origins of African American music:
Sunday, March 20, 1864…. we had wind and tide against us, and a heavy load, so we were not home till near seven … there was a full moon and the men sang most of the way as they rowed. It was curious to see how their rowing flagged — for they were quite tired — the moment the singing stopped. It wasn’t a very good set of singers, still I was very glad to hear them, for I have heard very little boat music. They sang “Michael row,” “Hold your Light,” and several others …(Quoted in Martha Bayless. “Michael Boat a Gospel Boat: ‘Wild and Strangely Fascinating’” The Past is a Foreign Country, June 8 2013 https://pastisaforeigncountry.wordpress.com/2013/06/08/170/.)
Although the Wisconsin Synod’s constitution stated that “everything should be in keeping with the true word of the Bible and the confessions of our Evangelical-Lutheran church”, and although all pastors pledged themselves to the Unaltered Augsburg Confession (UAC), practices did not always follow beliefs. The practices which were flawed were those concerning fellowship. Pastors often served congregations comprised of both Lutherans and Reformed Christians. This most likely stemmed from a “loyalty to the Langenberg tradition of peaceful coexistence among conflicting creeds which could not easily be shaken.” Ever since the Prussian Union, these Lutherans were used to worshiping side by side with those who did not have the same beliefs as they.
Fortunately, God did not allow this practice to continue in the Wisconsin Synod. By His guiding hand, our early church fathers began to turn from these unscriptural ways. God used a number of means to accomplish this turnaround. First of all, the synod’s constitution was still founded on the beliefs of a confessional Lutheran church. However, these beliefs obviously clashed with the current practices of fellowship. This caused disorderliness in the congregations, and because of this, pastors began to take a more consistent confessional stance on the applications of the doctrine of church fellowship.
Robert Smith, “O’er Jerusalem Thou Weepest,” Notes from The Lutheran Hymnal. Project Wittenberg http://www.projectwittenberg.org/etext/hymnals/tlh/weepest.txt
"O'er Jerusalem Thou Weepest" by Anna Hoppe, 1889-1941 Text From: THE HANDBOOK TO THE LUTHERAN HYMNAL
Hymnal (1925), No. 176; The Lutheran Hymnal (St. Louis: Concordia, 1941), No. 419;
Lista över psalmer i 1819 års psalmbok i Svenska kyrkan Wikipedia [Swedish]
By Steve Smith of the Western North Carolina Dulcimer Collective, on the EverythingDulcimer.com website at http://www.everythingdulcimer.com/files/tab/shenadoah.pdf (or go to Dulcimer Tablature menu and scroll down to Smith's version of "Shenandoah." There are a couple of others -- his is the one you want.) A couple of videos available on YouTube:
Mudcat Cafe has several lengthy threads speculating on the song's origins and early history, which are obscure and varied. Two of the most informative are here and here. I like what Kim C said May 11, 2001, at 10:15 a.m. in the thread "Subject: RE: Shenandoah Origin":
Here's what I tell people when I perform this, and it's as near as I can figure ... originating as a boatman's song in the 1830s or thereabouts, went out to sea as a shanty, came back to land as a ballad and has been sung as one for many years. It was popular with soldiers during the Civil War, and went out west with them afterwards and has enjoyed an incarnation as a cowboy ballad.
But by far the best https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oh_Shenandoah https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oh_Shenandoah
"Oh Shenandoah" (also called simply "Shenandoah" or "Across the Wide Missouri") is a traditional American folk song of uncertain origin, dating at least to the early 19th century.
The song appears to have originated with Canadian and American voyageurs or fur traders traveling down the Missouri River in canoes, and has developed several different sets of lyrics. Some lyrics refer to the Native American chief "Shenandoah" (Oskanondonha) and a canoe-going trader who wants to marry his daughter. By the mid 1800s versions of the song had become a sea shanty heard or sung by sailors in various parts of the world.
Sea Songs and Shanties, Collected by W.B. Whall, Master Mariner (1910, Glasgow).
["Shenandoah"] probably came from the American or Canadian voyageurs, who were great singers .... In the early days of America, rivers and canals were the chief trade and passenger routes, and boatmen were an important class. Shenandoah was a celebrated Indian chief in American history, and several towns in the States are named after him. Besides being sung at sea, this song figured in old public school collections.
Hat tip to my cousin John, who writes, "I think I mentioned finding www.lutheranpublicradio.org several weeks ago - a website with lots of good church music that plays continuously, 24 hours per day. A high school classmate told me that her son, a LC-MS [pastor?], spoke on the talk side of the website. While scrolling through to find him, I found a talk on page 5, titled Issues, Etc. Encore: 16th Century Lutheran Kantor Johann Walter – Dr. Paul Grime, 4/24/15."
Toward the end of the podcast, Grime, of Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, Ind., makes the point that by the standards of his day, Luther was writing "Christian contemporary" music.
I knew my father's middle name was Walther -- Birger Walther Ellertsen -- and both of his sisters had it as their middle name. But I didn't know till a family gathering in 2014 of the connection with Luther's arranger. From a blog post to Hogfiddle on our 2014 cousins' reunion in upstate New York Music seems to run in the family -- Bestefar's father and perhaps his grandfather were cantors in Bergen, and at Koinonia I learned that Bestemor's family, from an industrial town called Sarpsborg in southeastern Norway, claims descent from the Johann Walther who edited Martin Luther's early congregational music.
In fact, later on that weekend we celebrated the family tradition by singing some of Walther's arrangements, including Christ lag in Todesbanden ("Christ Jesus lay in death's strong bands"). ... <.blockquote>
Solomon, Emily Marie, "Tunes, Textures, and Trends: The Transformation of Johann Walther’s Geistliches Gesangbüchlein (1524, 1525, 1537, 1544, 1551)" (2014). Master's Theses. Paper 480. Western Michigan University. http://scholarworks.wmich.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1490&context=masters_theses.
Here are a couple of YouTube videos:
Western Swing, like bluegrass, was heavily influenced by jazz. And we can hear that influence in "Midnight on the Water."
Chris Haigh, a British fiddle player who maintains the Fiddling Around website, has definitive information about the tune's pedigree at http://www.fiddlingaround.co.uk/Texas%20Swing%20Fiddle/index.html. You can't find a better pedigree:
The most significant of the new generation of Texas fiddlers [in the 1930s and 40s] was Benny Thomasson, (1909-1984) for whom the jazz music on early radio was a huge influence. His father Luke was also a well respected fiddler, and wrote the famous waltz Midnight on the Water. Luke was a friend of Eck Robertson, and would often visit the house, proving a major inspiration for Benny as a child. Benny’s repertoire ranged from traditional reels, hornpipes, polkas and waltzes to jazz numbers such as Sweet Georgia Brown.
Haigh also has an interesting aside on jam session styles, which are a bit different in the world of Western Swing, more like bluegrass and jazz sessions:
I asked Bryan [Jimmerson, president of the Texas Old Time Fiddlers Association] about the nature of the car park and campfire jam sessions which are an important feature of fiddle contests and conventions. In Britain we are used to the Irish trad session where a circle of players will do tune after tune in as near perfect unison as possible. In a tradition where improvisation and variation are valued, this surely could not be the same? I have rarely been around a jam session where folks play tunes at the same time. I have heard several young players do this from time to time but it's because they all take from the same teacher and have the exact same version of the tune so they are all playing the exact same notes. Generally at our jams the more seasoned fiddlers will play a tune and pass it to the next person to let them show what they can do with it. It's fun to watch them show off and try to out-do each other especially on swing tunes. Another jam scenario would be that one fiddler sits with the guitar players and plays until he is ready to let someone else play and then he gives up the "hot seat" to someone else and on it goes.
Old-time sessions fall somewhere in between. Most of us play slightly different versions of a tune, and some of us couldn't play it the same way twice if we tried. But our jams are more about blending with the other players in a group than individual performance, and we quickly learn we'd better not get too free with the melody!
Here, for the record, is the basic information about the tune from The Fiddler’s Companion, © 1996-2009 by Andrew Kuntz at http://www.ibiblio.org/fiddlers/MID_MILK.htm (scroll down to title):
MIDNIGHT ON THE WATER. Old‑Time, Waltz. USA, Texas. D Major. DDad tuning. AABB (Spandaro): AA'BB' (Brody, Matthiesen, Reiner & Anick). This popular composition is usually credited to Texas fiddler Luke Thomasson, although it has been published that Luke's son Benny (a famous Texas‑style fiddler who popularized the melody) long remembered the night he heard both his father and uncle composing the tune on the family porch (c. 1900?). Several sources have noted this tune’s resemblance to an Oklahoma-collected tune called “Old Paint,” and there is an ongoing debate about whether “Midnight” is derivative of “Paint” (or vice versa). The Library of Congress recording "Cowboy Songs, Ballads, and Cattle Calls from Texas" (LOC lp L28), collected by John A. Lomax and edited by Duncan Emrich, has a version of the “Paint” song by Jess Morris which has quite similar melodic material with “Midnight on the Water.” The liner notes to the album point out that Morris was born in 1878 and would perhaps have been contemporary with the Thomassons, who, like Morris, lived in the Texas panhandle. ...
Whitney introduces the podcast like this:
As we prepared to record this week's Red Clay Readers podcast, my friend and colleague John Hammontree said something that shocked me:
He might prefer "Go Set A Watchman" to "To Kill A Mockingbird."
John is the first person I've heard make such a declaration, and I quickly turned on the tape recorder (er, iPhone app) and asked him to explain himself. "I think there's a lot more to unpack there, which I think makes it a more interesting book than the fairy tale that is 'To Kill A Mockingbird,'" he said.
Listen to that discussion, then chime in and let us know what you think.
This stuff isn't indexed, and there's a lot of it. It's part of a standing feature called the "Red Clay Readers," which is sort of like an online book club for readers of the Montgomery News, the Huntsville Times and the Mobile Press-Register. Whitney describes it like this and adds she'll host a livechat Friday of this week:
Red Clay Readers, AL.com's online book club, has spent the past month examining Harper Lee's "Go Set A Watchman." That analysis ends Friday, and we'll follow it with a live chat Friday afternoon at AL.com/books.
The book club kicked off with The Next Chapter events in Birmingham, Huntsville and Mobile, in which panelists and audience members discussed themes in and expectations for Lee's second book. Friday's live chat will include some of those folks, and we hope it will be an opportunity to revisit those discussions.
Friday's chat will include Mobile County Commissioner Merceria Ludgood, Auburn University-Montgomery's Nancy Grisham Anderson and Margaret Terwey, Books-A-Million's senior fiction buyer. Save the date and join us! The chat will take place from 2-3 p.m. at AL.com/books. I'll post that morning, and the conversation will take place in the comments.
There's been a lot more about the novels on the AL.com website, and the discussion I've read -- admittedly a small sampling so far -- brings to it a perspective that I think is important for the rest of us to know about.
As editorial writer John Hammontree suggests in the podcast, we gain a sense of Atticus Finch as a more well-rounded character from reading the novels together. I'd like to hope, speaking strictly for myself and from a perspective of having grown up in the South during the period Harper Lee wrote about in "Watchman," that we can come to an understanding of the complexity of race relations similar to what Harper Lee's Jean Louise Finch struggled with in "Go Set a Watchman." I suspect the book is deeply flawed, but it's important because we don't like to think about race -- and even if the novel isn't successful, Lee at least tries.
"Garry and Gena joined with some of the area's finest players to form the New Mules. Abby Ladin plays the bass, Smith Koester the banjo, and Andy Gribble the guitar. Their music is from authentic traditional sources and includes both rare and obscure old gems and previously unheard versions of better-known numbers. The group brings renewed life to this music with their own unique arrangements and performances, and no one has more fun in doing it.
"The New Mules were honored with the award of First Prize in the Traditional Band competition at the Appalachian String Band Festival, Clifftop, West Virginia, August 2, 2008."
UPDATE: So when I order Pride of America from CDBaby.com, the online record store that caters to independent artists, I get this shipping notice in my email:
Thanks for your order with CD Baby!
* * *
[tracking details omitted]
(1) The New Mules: Pride of America
Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.
A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure it was in the best possible condition before mailing. Our world-renowned packing specialist lit a local artisan candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy.
We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved "Bon Voyage!" to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet on this day, August 11, 2015.
We hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. In commemoration, we have placed your picture on our wall as "Customer of the Year." We're all exhausted but can't wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
We miss you already. We'll be right here at http://cdbaby.com/, patiently awaiting your return.
The little store with the best new independent music.
Beneath the flier at http://www.svenskakyrkan.se/slaka-nykil/psalmodikonhogmassa on the Svenska kyrkan website is posted the following information:
SVENSK KULTURHISTORIA: INSTRUMENTET ÄR KANSKE VÄRLDENS ÄLDSTA.
Psalmodikon är ett svenskt kulturarv som kan vara på väg att försvinna. Ändå var detta det mest vanliga instrumentet i Sverige under 1800-talet. Att det nära på försvunnit beror inte på bristen på instrument utan avsaknaden av folk som vet hur man använder detta enkla robusta instrument.
Själva lådan består av gran (bästa ljudet).
Strängen är gjord av fårtarmar.
Den skriker ibland! Stråken gjordes förr av en gren och hästtagel.
Idag använder vi fiolstråkar.
Vi spelar fyrstämmigt d.v.s. Sopran, Alt, Tenor och Bas.
Repertoar: Välkända psalmer, visor (Taube, Ferlin, Dan Andersson).
Which I translate (very freely, and with a big assist from Doktor Google} as follows:
SWEDISH CULTURAL HISTORY: INSTRUMENT IS PERHAPS THE WORLD'S OLDEST
Psalmodikon is a Swedish cultural heritage that may be about to disappear. Yet this was the most common instrument in Sweden during the 1800s. Its disappeared is not due to lack of instruments but the lack of people who know how to use this simple, robust instruments.
The box itself is made up of spruce (best sound).
The string is made of sheep intestines.
It screams sometimes! The bow was formerly made of a branch and horsehair.
Today we use violin bows.
We play in four-part harmony -- i.e. soprano, alto, tenor and bass
Repertoire: Well-known psalms, or hymns, and ballads. Taube, Ferlin and Dan Anderson were Swedish traditional musicians.
I can attest to the part about how the psalmodikon shrieks at times [skriker ibland]. So can practically anyone who has heard me play!
I like the way my re-enactment of a 19th-century Swedish pastor's singing school is jelling, although I definitely need to work on bowing and the whole presentation could use a little more polish! I think my audiences -- congregations -- do learn the song by the repetition that comes when I (a) play the melody on the psalmodikon, (b) lead the congregation in singing the sifferskrift numbers, and (c) lead them in singing all four verses from the English hymnal. Most of them seem to enjoy it.
For convenient reference, here's the hymn in sifferskrift, Dillner's numerical psalmodikon tablature:
The numbers reflect degrees of the scale: 1 = do, 2 = re, 3 = mi and so on up through 8 = do' at the octave.
More information at http://hogfiddle.blogspot.com/2015/05/din-klara-sol-gar-ater-opp.html.
But this morning I was on Facebook, and the subject of Girdwood, Alaska, came up. Girdwood is about an hour's drive east of Anchorage, and I used to go out there when Debi was busy with Alaska Domestic Violence Network meetings in town. I'd eat lunch at a little restaurant called the Bake Shop and head a few miles farther down the Seward Highway to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, where I'd spend an hour or two before heading back to Anchorage.
Other times, Debi and I would head out in the morning. The Seward Highway follows the Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet out of Anchorage, and the scenery looks like fjord country in Norway. It's magnificent. Then we'd stop at the Bake Shop for a bowl of soup, which was also magnificent, before visiting the wildlife center.
Anyway, when I Googled up the Bake Shop today, I noticed it is now posting some of its recipes.
Among them: Great Northern Bean with Andouille Sausage, Tomato Basil, Beef Barley Vegetable Soup, Szegedin Goulash (named after a district in Hungary where they grow paprika) and a vegan African Ground Nut Stew. Also Potato Salad, Chicken Salad and a variety of baked goods.
Here's the link:
It's probably a little too soon yet, but summer is nearly over. And I want those recipes when it's soup-and-sandwich time again.
Composer John Victor Bergquist was head of the Augustana College music department and leader of the Handel Oratorio Society and Wennerberg chorus from 1912 to 1918. One of Bergquist’s original compositions, Golgatha, was performed by the Handel Oratorio Society with the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra in 1915. Also in 1915, Bergquist, along with Dr. E.W. Olson, was commissioned by the Augustana Synod to compose a piece, the Reformation Cantata, to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation. This piece was performed in 1917 in Rock Island, Illinois, by a 400-member chorus and the Tri-City Orchestra.
Sources: Bergendoff, Conrad. Augustana… A Profession of Faith: A History of Augustana College, 1860-1935. Rock Island, IL: Augustana College Library, 1969.
Laudon, Robert Tallant. “J. Victor Bergquist: Finding Joy in Music.” Minnesota Musicians of the Cultured Generation. Minneapolis: University of Michigan, 2002.
Bergquist wrote a series of articles for The Lutheran Companion, Nov. 1916-Jan. 1917, on the synod's Reformation heritage:
[Beginning in January 1917, pages were numbered consecutively; prior to that, each issue was paginated separately.]
Intro to series (11 Nov.):
Lutheran Companion, 30 June 1917. http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/012100067.
Christian Cyclopedia, LC-MS has this:
Gerberding, George Henry (August 21, 1847–March 27, 1927). B. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; educ. Thiel Coll. and Muhlenberg Coll. (see Ministry, Education of, VIII A 7, 11); ordained 1876; pastor and miss. in Pennsylvania, Ohio and North Dakota; founder and 1st pres. Syn. of the Northwest, pres. Chicago Syn. (see United Lutheran Church, Synods of, 20, 8); prof. Chicago Luth. Sem. and Northwestern Luth. Sem. (see Ministry, Education of, XI B 6, 10). Works include The Way of Salvation in the Lutheran Church; Life and Letters of W. A. Passavant, DD ...