Slave Resistance:  Slave Song

 

                 In 1867, William Francis Allen published a collection of songs sung by former slaves along the eastern seaboard. Allen noted that these songs had been rediscovered by white northerners who had begun educational missions among the slaves living on the Port Royal islands in South Carolina at the beginning of the Civil War. Beginning in 1863, Allen worked for the Freedmen’s Aid Commission on St. Helena Island. In putting together the volume, Allen received assistance from Thomas Wentworth Higginson, a white colonel who during the Civil War commanded the 1st South Carolina Volunteers, an all-black unit in the Union army.

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[p. 76]

 

99. Come down, angel, and trouble the water,

Come down, angel, and trouble the water,

Come down, angel, and trouble the water,

And let God’s saints come in. (God say you must.)

 

1. Canaan land is the land for me,

And let God’s saints come in.

Canaan land is the land for me,

And let God’s saints come in.

 

2. There was a wicked man,

He kept them children in Egypt land.

 

3. God did say to Moses one day,

Say, Moses go to Egypt land,

 

4. And tell him to let my people go.

And Pharaoh would not let ’em go.

 

5. God did go to Moses’ house,

And God did tell him who he was.

 

6. God and Moses walked and talked,

And God did show him who he was.

 

 

From William Francis Allen, Slave Songs of the United States (New York: A. Simpson & Co., 1867), 76.