Sunday, August 23, 2009

the spirit of John Barleycorn

I want to spend some time with the counties already included in the NPS study for the National Heritage Area. I chose Lincoln county today. It was born in the middle of the Revolution in 1779. Lincolnton is the county seat. The Battle of Ramseur's Mill happened here. This battle in the spring of 1780 was a victory for Patriot forces even though the Loyalist, Tory force led by Lincoln county natives was a larger group. Note then that this was a battle between Americans, evidence of a civil war on the way to independence from Britain.

You can research the battle above. I want to find out more about the people. They were primarily Scots-Irish on one bank of the river and Germans on the other. I found this funny incident about the people of Lincoln county in the first link above. In those days before church organs, the minister and a clerk led the singing on Sundays during worship services. I believe this is the kind of shape-note singing we are briefly familiar with.

The memory of the old people runs back to the time when the printing press had not filled the churches with hymn books, where there were no church organs, nor organists to lead the choir. In those days the congregations sang, being led by a precentor called the clerk, a man of importance, and the minister lined out the hymn. Four young men from Lincolnton attended a camp meeting. When the minister lined a a couplet of a familiar hymn, the congregation followed the clerk, sang the couplet and paused for the rest. The four boys, filled with the spirit of John Barleycorn, paused not, but in well-trained musical voice, carrying the several parts finished the stanza; then the second and entire hymn to the dismay of the minister, clerk, and dumbfounding the congregation. A charge of disturbing the public worship was preferred in the courts, conviction followed and the offenders sentenced to sit one hour in the stocks.

Here is a link for shape-note singing in North Carolina. Their humorous history is hysterical if you can understand British comedies or are some kind of scientist. It is a decidedly high-brow view of the basic voice singing to sound like a bunch of bagpipes.

I guess those Lincolnton boys liked to sing like that. Lincolnton claims the home of the largest Bojangle's Famous Chicken and Biscuit restaurant in the United States. Sing along with "gottawannaneedagettahava Bojangles" to practice singing in the contemporary spirit. Maybe those Triangle folks will send a shape-note version to Bojangles to add to the list of song types here.

So singing in church and getting Bojangles for lunch and having a Sunday nap is the appropriate American Sunday. I am singing along to TV today, but my men are at church. I will have to liquify the chicken to mush to eat it, but I hope they remember to stop by and get it. However, my throat is getting better and I can swallow a little easier every day. The neck brace is still tolerable. I guess I am getting a forced month of Sundays since housework, etc is forbidden until it comes off. That's okay.

And a nap is great for a hot summer Sunday afternoon with a breeze. Wouldn't it be neat in a hammock outside? That is still on my list of stuff to get. My list is very short now. We really don't need any more stuff. But thinking about this reminds me to refer you to South Carolina to the The Original Hammock Shop at Pawley's Island. We spent our wedding trip some years ago at Litchfield Plantation and visited the shop at Pawley's Island. Hammocks are made by hand and the weaver there gave us a souvenir of the tip of a hammock for our wedding. It's like a huge Christmas ornament for the back of the tree for me now. He collected postcards from all over the world. He was an interesting man. We should have bought a hammock from him by now. It's going to the top of my list as soon as I am profitable again.

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