Thursday, February 21, 2013

Series 4:Hymn-Lining ~Gaelic,English & American Tradition


                                                  Gaelic Psalm singing_Hymn-Lining

                              Sardis Primitive Baptist Church,Hillard,Fla.1997_Hymn Lining

Feis Saturday Gaelic Hymn Lining Workshop,Edinburgh,Scotland 
        What is the common thread in all of the photo's?


As a child growing up in East Texas,going to church on Sunday morning was a given.I was the Sunday School Secretary,loved visiting with friends,being polite to Elders and enjoying the singing.My Mother played piano and organ,my brother and I sang in the choir_and my Grandmother sometimes led the church_St Andrews AME Church,Crockett,Texas_ in the singing of hymns.She'd outline the song_(speak the words )then the congregation would sing in a-cappella form.Little did I know that I was part of a tradition that African-Americans had been doing since slavery_Hymn-Lining.

Fast forward,today! I saw this video on Hymn-Lining where an 86 year old gentleman_Mr.Troy Demps_ works hard to preserve that African-American tradition.Watch the video here:

Well,I didn't know that it was called Hymn-Lining and always thought is was an African -American tradition.But wait! curiosity bug kicked in and I was amazed at what I learned.My Irish/German/Scottish husband always says_"We are All One Tribe in this Universe"!I think he's right.

~History of Hymn-Lining~
The practice of lined-out psalmody was first documented in England by the Westminster Assembly in 1644.The problem was many church members could NOT read.So a psalter read the song line for line_then the members sang.With the advent of more people able to read and more hymnals available in print the practice died out.The biggest culprit was the "Gentrification"(Elitist) of British Society(late 18th cen.)_along with dissolving church bands,dancing,festivals,etc..
The practice however became the norm in English Dissenting churches of all levels and American churches even after hymnals became available.

Lining out became prevalent in the 17th century both in Great Britain and America, gradually developing a distinctive style characterized by a slow, drawn-out "heterophonic" and often profusely ornamented melody,while a clerk or precentor (song leader) chanted the text line by line before it was sung by the congregation. Though attacked by musical reformers as uncouth, it has survived to the present among some communities and contexts, including the Gaelic psalmody on Lewis,the Old Regular Baptists of the southern Appalachians (U.S.A.) and for informal worship in many African-Americans  congregations.

Lining out was in most places replaced by "regular singing". There began to be "singing societies" of young men who met one evening a week to rehearse. As time went on, a section of the church was allocated for these trained voices to sit together as a choir, and churches voted to end the lining out system.

In the churches of the American South lining out still continues today.It's a tradtion that started during Slavery because African-Americans were not allowed to read...or any education for that matter! So,slaves were allowed to white churches,memorize the hymns,take it back to their communities ,add drums,praise dancing,etc.This practice became known as "Dr.Watts Hymn Singing"_an historical irony given Watts' disapproval of the practice. Primitive Baptist or Regular Baptist churches still line-out song.

Some Presbyterian churches in Scotland also still do lining out, though often now in a restricted context, with other hymns being accompanied and not lined out. The practice is now more common in Gaelic Psalm singing than in English, and indeed is often considered a characteristic of Gaelic culture.The Isle of Lewis is where most_lining out_ is practiced on a regular basis.
Here's some examples of Hymn-Lining:

Other Source: 


Great Source: 

Well,folks_I just had Church here at my computer_Thursday February 21,2013_while typing_listening to I am a "Poor Pilgrim of Sorrow" Lined-out by: Kentucky Old Regular Baptists Sing "I Am A Poor Pilgrim Of Sorrow." 1993 on You Tube! Just goes to show we are all "One Tribe"!

Peace Out...time to get ready for March!I shall

     ~"Keep Calm and get My Irish On"~


Thursday, February 14, 2013

~Happy Valentine's Day 2013~

To all those in SageBookWhisperer  Land...

~Excuse me a moment while I try to bite through this page for what looks like a delicious treat...testing.....1,2,3,4,.....

                ~Thanks for stopping by~

         ~"Happy Valentine's Day 2013~


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

~Series 3:Black History,American History,Still in the Making......

There are many "First" in terms of African-American achievements in History..some never reached the books from yonder years.I've always found it disturbing for a History of a people so important in building America to be given a month to highlight their achievements. I do understand the necessity.Black History Month, also known as African-American History Month in America, is an annual observance in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom for remembrance of important people and events in the history of the African diaspora.It is celebrated annually in the United States and Canada in February and the United Kingdom in October.

Black History Month began in 1926 in America,when historian Carter G.Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be "Negro History Week". This week was chosen because it marked the birthday of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.Woodson created the holiday with the hope that it eventually be eliminated when black history became fundamental to American history.Negro History Week was met with enthusiastic response; it prompted the creation of black history clubs, an increase in interest among teachers,and interest from progressive whites. Negro History Week grew in popularity throughout the following decades, with mayors across the United States endorsing it as a holiday.

In 1976, the federal government acknowledged the expansion of Black History Week to Black History Month by the leaders of the Black United Students at Kent State University (Feb.1969) and the first celebration was February 1970.Six years later during the bicentennial,the expansion of Negro History Week to Black History Month was recognized by the U.S. government. Gerald Ford urged Americans to "seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.

Black History Month was first celebrated in the United Kingdom in 1987.In 1995,Canada officially recognized February as Black History Month. In 2008,Senator Donald Oliver moved to have the Senate officially recognize Black History Month, which was unanimously approved.

Further reading:

                                                      Carter G.Woodson  

And we've come a long,long way from...

                                        World War II_Black_"Rosie The Riveter's"

                                    African-Americans "FIRST" Right To Vote 1867

President Barack Obama _"FIRST" African-American President(2009) & Re-Elected for 2nd term in 2013.

I certainly can appreciate the debate each year around this time_Do we really need a special month to highlight African American achievement in History? Isn't Black History after all_American History?  It was a step forward in 1926 and much needed.Black History is still in the making.....

                              Northern Teachers traveled to the South to Educate

...the many institutions that sprung up to educate Blacks all across America_
                            Mary Allen College(c.1886),Crockett,Texas(East Texas)

My Grandmother's home was next to Mary Allen College_so I literally grew up in a college environment that promoted excellence in all walks of Life.And,today Excellence continues in many forms.I was so proud of Leonard Cooper on this week's Teen Jeopardy Tournament 2013_with his win as Champion. I've been a fan of JEOPARDY since 1964_haven't missed many episodes!!!

Check out his story:

And check out his "gutsy"move_AWESOME!!!

And in the same week_in the "College Tournament"_another Southerner attending a dual program (high school & college) at University of North Texas became the youngest to win_a young Asian girl,Monica Thieu.

Story here:

So,the point is African-Americans and other minority groups are part of "Mainstream America"in 2013.Only 28 Days to share a history of accomplished Americans of Color_Really? Shouldn't it be just American History 101?

"Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise. I rise. I rise." 
~Maya Angelou, "Still I Rise," And Still I Rise

Friday, February 8, 2013

~Series 2: Thaddeus Stevens,The Old Commoner~

                            Thaddeus Stevens ~"The Old Commoner"

...On the floor of the House of Representatives,Stevens makes reference to a pro- slaver_"(He) is proof that some men are inferior,endowed by their creator with dim wits,impermeable to reason,with cold,pallid slime in their veins".

Ouch!Perhaps, there is no other man hated so much in history_yet did so much good for the freedom of slaves in his life time.....than Thaddeus Stevens! NYTimes called him,"the evil "Genius of the Republican party", when the Confederate Army invaded Pennsylvania(1863) they dispatched cavalry to burn down his iron foundry,the President suggested he should be hanged,and after he died(1868),his party decided to honor him by nominating him for reelection to Congress_he won by a landslide!!!

Tommy Lee Jones tries his hand at bringing Stevens spirit back to life in Steven Spielberg's hit movie "Lincoln".

Jones plays Stevens as a snide,cynical,misanthropic old politician with a bad wig and a black mistress!

Stevens was known for his sharp wit_and used it at every opportunity.When an opponent interrupted one of his House speeches with a request to speak,Stevens replied,"I yield to the gentleman for a few feeble remarks."

Yet another_when ripping a pro-slaver,Stevens,replied,"There are some reptiles so flat that the common foot of man cannot crush them". The movie only hints at the bone-deep idealism and anger that the Old Commoner spewed at a moments notice.

Seems he loved to tell jokes as well...."The Wit and Wisdom of Thaddeus Stevens"_

Thaddeus Stevens fought harder to win freedom and equality for Black Americans than any politician in our history including Abraham Lincoln_many of his battles occurred after Lincoln's death.

Thaddeus was born with one leg crippled by a clubfoot in Vermont 1792, his father was a drunkard & deserted the family,supported by his mother working as a maid, she saved just enough for Thaddeus to attend Dartmouth. While at Dartmouth it is said he began to exhibit a lifelong scorn for those lucky souls born healthy and wealthy.He graduated 1814,moved to Pennsylvania to teach school and study Law.He became a very successful attorney. But in 1821 hired by a Maryland Slave owner to regain his runaway slave,being successful at winning the case_pondered how his courtroom cleverness caused the woman and her children to lose their freedom_he was appalled at himself_becoming a dedicated Abolitionist for the rest of his life.Elected in 1833 to the Pennsylvania legislation_he refused to sign the new state constitution because blacks couldn't vote and fought for education for all. He served in the US  Office of Rep.from 1849-1853 & 1859-1868 (his death). He fought hard in Congress to pass the 13th Amendment to the Constitution_


"The greatest measure of the 19th century was passed by corruption,aided and abetted by the purest man in America."_(Lincoln,Stevens,Wm.Seward & other shady political operatives). 

He differed from Lincoln's insistence during the Civil War that the war was about restoring the Union_not a war to end slavery!Rather Stevens,urged Lincoln to turn the war into a "radical revolution" that would end Slavery.Stevens primary political and personal focus was on Freedom for all.Under his office in Lancaster,Pa was a link to the Underground Railroad. He was also known as the politician responsible for the proposal and impeachment of President Andrew Johnson.

Shop here:
and American History Magazine_April 2013 Vol.48.No1_"Lincoln's Feisty Foil"

Part II
His Companion:

And,by his side until his death was Lydia Hamilton Smith an attractive,intelligent "mulatto"(mother free Black;father Irish) woman who managed his visitors and household ,comporting herself as if she enjoyed the rights of a lawful wife.When Stevens died, Smith was at his bedside, along with his nephews Simon and Thaddeus Stevens Jr., two African American nuns, and several other individuals.Under Stevens will, Smith was allowed to choose between a lump sum of $5,000 or a $500 annual allowance; she was also allowed to take any furniture in his house.With the inheritance, she purchased Stevens's house, where she had lived for many years, and the adjoining lot. Smith became a successful business woman of the times.

Thaddeus Stevens chose to be buried in the Shreiner-Concord Cemetery, because it was the only cemetery that would accept people without regard to race. Stevens wrote the inscription on his headstone that reads:

"I repose in this quiet and secluded spot, not from any natural preference for solitude, but finding other cemeteries limited as to race, by charter rules, I have chosen this that I might illustrate in my death the principles which I advocated through a long life, equality of man before his Creator."

                      ~Who Knew?
    Is Stevens the real "Great Emancipator"?

Friday, February 1, 2013

~Series 1:19th Century "Dancing For Eels",U Can't Touch This~

Well,let's get this party started!Folks it's that time of the year again.I bring you ~Enlightenment ~ of various aspects of African-Americans...yes it's Black History Month. AND_there's a couple of other important dates to remember in in something for your Sweetie on the 14th!I've listed a few reminders in the right column under ~Mental-Locity~!

                           Series 1:Dancing with Eels

Few people here in Texas,I'd imagine have had any experiences with eels.I got tricked into eating eel while in training to be a Sales Rep.for Squibb Derm(1988).We were staying at the Lambertville Inn in N.J. & Dining at the Lambertville Station next door on the Delaware River. I was NOT pleased about the surprise food_thought I was eating just regular old fried fish_I'm a Southern girl.

To be sure,the eel is a long,thin bony fish.There's European and American types_this is an American eel_

Most eels live in the shallow waters of the ocean and burrow into sand, mud, or amongst rocks. A majority of eel species are nocturnal, and thus are rarely seen. Sometimes, they are seen living together in holes, or "eel pits". Some species of eels also live in deeper water on the continental shelves and over the slopes deep as 4,000 m (13,000 ft). Only members of the Anguillidae family regularly inhabit fresh water, but they too return to the sea to breed.

Distribution and size of  larvae of the American eel, Anguilla rostrata

The elongated Eel can vary in lengths from 5 cm (2.0 in) in the one-jawed eel to 4 m (13 ft.)in the slender giant morays. Eel blood is toxic to humans and other mammals_but both cooking and the digestive process destroy the toxic protein.Eels have been used for centuries as cuisine in Japan,China,Spain,N.Germany,the Netherlands,Denmark,Sweden,New Zealand,USA,etc..

Smoked Eel is considered a delicacy.Eel skin leather is highly prized.It is very smooth and exceptionally strong. However, it does not come from eels. It comes from the Pacific hagfish.a jawless fish which is also known as the slime eel.

                                                                Eel Dinner

Now,the only thing I can think of that's comparable to these fellas is the lowly catfish_in the swampy moss filled watering holds of East Texas where I grew up.BTW,I don't eat catfish_they are bottom feeders!Nope,I don't eat them.


So what does this have to do with "Black History Month"?

While enjoying one of my favorite Saturday programs on PBS_Antiques Roadshow_a woman named Carole presented a Folk Art painting called "Dancing For Eels"(c.1885) for appraisal.The Appraiser(Nancy Druckman) was overjoyed to see it! I've attended two of those shows(Boston & Dallas) with my zillion $$ prizes(not)_so, I sat up erect...because I just knew this was going to be a good one.Seems Carole found the painting lying neglected among some decrepit old frames on the floor of an antique store in Washington,D.C.

                                  "Dancing For Eels"

The Appraiser had seen another version of this painting.

1848 lithograph version of the Dancing for Eels composition, by E. & J. Brown. (Image Source: WGBH Media Library.)

Carole's painting in August 2010 at the Antiques Roadshow, estimated auction value _$6,000 to $9,000!She purchased it for  around $85. 

This version of Dancing for Eels,seems to have been a folk drawing from the 1820s that depicted two African American men dancing at New York City's Catharine Fish Market, a crossroads and meeting place for African Americans in the region. At the time, slavery was being abolished across the northern states, but it was a gradual process. New Jersey had enacted a law in 1804 that freed all African Americans born subsequent to passage; but as late as 1860, the state would still be home to a number of slaves. New York, on the other hand, abolished slavery entirely in 1827. Dancing for Eels shows the three communities of slaves, freedmen, and whites coming into contact as their places in society are beginning to change.

After traveling into the city from farms in New Jersey, says Druckman, slaves would sell their produce at the Bear Market and meet up with free New Yorkers to socialize and gamble. Afterward, the slaves and freedmen would head over to the nearby Catharine Fish Market to dance and play music for whites in exchange for fresh fish or eels. The sight of men dancing for eels at Catharine Market became familiar enough to New Yorkers that, over the course of the 19th century, it served as source material for a number of lithographs and political cartoons.

The lines gives you a sense of the energy and the rhythm of the dancers...a visual-acoustical kind of combination. If the Artist had been trained, the planking would have just looked like planking. The extra surge of sound would be lost. That's exactly the kind of thing that makes folk art so interesting _ the ability to use visual elements in an unrestricted way

The racial content is a little more difficult.When Carole first saw the painting in the antiques store, she  was attracted to its color palette, na├»ve joyfulness and obvious age. But beneath the scene of black men smiling and dancing for food were undercurrents that caused her to hesitate."I don't collect that kind of thing," she says. But the men in the painting, I realized, are not in blackface; they're just black men who've been given the simple treatment of folk art — though there was something reminiscent of blackface.Carole read some background information.Thus,she didn't see it with the same degree of negativity as when she picked it up off the floor.
The men in the painting are certainly dancing for food, but they also seem to be dancing for pleasure. There is no sense of the men being forced to dance, and the only whites in the painting are well in the background. As she looked more deeply into the history of the painting, Carole learned that Catharine Market was a place where black and white culture mingled, perhaps not as freely as they do today, but not necessarily under a pall of racism. As slaves and freedmen danced for eels, they were keeping alive a culture of movement and dance that would survive slavery, adaptation,and assimilation by minstrels into blackface, and the Jim Crow regime, finally to be incorporated into the dance culture of the most globally successful form of pop music of the last few decades, rap and hip-hop.

 Dancing for Eels allows us to use a magnifying glass,enlarging the intricate weaving of African American culture into a country that was just beginning to view blacks as fully human. The painting will always be looked upon as controversial. Some would say the men are simply_Dancing!


Pretty interesting think?

Modern rap and hip-hop performance also contain traces of  Dancing for Eels style_ from the New York street dancers,Atlanta Hip Hop,etc..A great example can be observed in MC Hammer using the Market Step in his video U Can't Touch This_ knees open, heel-to-toe rock, often accompanied by one or both hands overhead. This move traces back to "Dancing for Eels 1820 Catherine Market",  which can be seen in the folk drawings depicting this old competition style of Dancing for FOOD!

         I Feel like Dancing~
                         Can't Touch That!!!!!!!!!