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Origins: Master of the Sheepfold

DigiTrad:
THE MASTER OF THE SHEEPFOLD


Arkie 02 May 99 - 12:59 AM
campfire 02 May 99 - 01:15 AM
Frank of Toledo 02 May 99 - 03:12 AM
Joe Offer 02 May 99 - 04:04 AM
Arkie 02 May 99 - 10:51 PM
Charley Noble 01 Oct 01 - 05:01 PM
Art Thieme 01 Oct 01 - 11:11 PM
Art Thieme 01 Oct 01 - 11:30 PM
Charley Noble 02 Oct 01 - 08:29 AM
GUEST,Charley Noble 31 Oct 01 - 11:10 AM
GUEST,Charley Noble 31 Oct 01 - 11:14 AM
Bill D 31 Oct 01 - 11:23 AM
Jeri 31 Oct 01 - 11:34 AM
MMario 31 Oct 01 - 11:46 AM
Art Thieme 31 Oct 01 - 04:39 PM
Art Thieme 31 Oct 01 - 04:40 PM
Charley Noble 31 Oct 01 - 04:44 PM
MAG 31 Oct 01 - 04:52 PM
Charley Noble 31 Oct 01 - 07:48 PM
katlaughing 31 Oct 01 - 07:53 PM
Lin in Kansas 31 Oct 01 - 11:07 PM
Art Thieme 01 Nov 01 - 12:44 AM
GUEST,Dale 01 Nov 01 - 12:55 AM
Charley Noble 01 Nov 01 - 09:54 AM
Jeri 01 Nov 01 - 11:06 AM
Charley Noble 01 Nov 01 - 01:15 PM
Art Thieme 01 Nov 01 - 02:54 PM
Charley Noble 01 Nov 01 - 04:33 PM
Art Thieme 02 Nov 01 - 04:24 PM
Lin in Kansas 02 Nov 01 - 07:58 PM
Art Thieme 02 Nov 01 - 10:46 PM
GUEST,Jeri (whose cookie got all weathered) 05 Nov 01 - 11:45 AM
GUEST,Jeri (cookie lost and goodfernuthin') 05 Nov 01 - 11:53 AM
Charley Noble 05 Nov 01 - 06:36 PM
Charley Noble 05 Nov 01 - 06:44 PM
Jeri 05 Nov 01 - 07:35 PM
Art Thieme 05 Nov 01 - 11:35 PM
Art Thieme 05 Nov 01 - 11:40 PM
JohnInKansas 06 Nov 01 - 12:46 AM
Charley Noble 06 Nov 01 - 08:37 AM
Jeri 06 Nov 01 - 09:13 AM
GUEST,Q 04 May 03 - 10:06 PM
GUEST,Q 04 May 03 - 10:19 PM
Charley Noble 05 May 03 - 08:03 AM
GUEST,Q 05 May 03 - 11:29 AM
Art Thieme 05 May 03 - 05:19 PM
Charley Noble 05 May 03 - 05:35 PM
GUEST,Q 05 May 03 - 06:34 PM
Art Thieme 05 May 03 - 11:01 PM
Art Thieme 05 May 03 - 11:30 PM
Charley Noble 06 May 03 - 08:10 AM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 05 Aug 03 - 07:27 AM
GUEST,Arkie 05 Aug 03 - 12:02 PM
Bill D 05 Aug 03 - 05:11 PM
Charley Noble 05 Aug 03 - 09:25 PM
Jeri 05 Aug 03 - 10:04 PM
Bill D 05 Aug 03 - 10:31 PM
GUEST,pholt@maine.rr.com 18 Apr 04 - 11:09 PM
Barbara 19 Apr 04 - 01:12 AM
Charley Noble 19 Apr 04 - 10:11 AM
WooBerry 03 Dec 05 - 12:11 AM
Charley Noble 16 Aug 06 - 11:55 AM
Bill D 16 Aug 06 - 12:30 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 16 Aug 06 - 02:59 PM
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Subject: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Arkie
Date: 02 May 99 - 12:59 AM

Will some kind soul point me in the direction of the tread that discussed the Master of the Sheepfold. I have a friend who sings the song and wanted to pass the info that was contained in the thread on to her. Have tried filters and searches of past threads and drew a blank. Thanks!


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: campfire
Date: 02 May 99 - 01:15 AM

Is this "Brack Sheep" thread the one you are looking for?


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Frank of Toledo
Date: 02 May 99 - 03:12 AM

Our fellow Mudcatter Art Thieme has this on his recent Waterbug CD "The Older I Get, The Better I Was". I've been waiting for Art to answer this, but I'll give you the liner nots from his CD..."The Master of the Sheepfold" Eventuall, if we search long and hard enough, we will find that there is an author/composer for just about every song sung! I(Art), learned this song from Jerry Epstein at New York Pinewoods folk camp in Plymouth, Ma. in August of 1982. Jerry told me that it had been collected in Maine by Bill Bonyun years earlier. It had been brought to Pinewoods Camp by Susan Richardson. I was the first one to record the song. I did that on my second Folk Legacy LP and cassette (still available) Art Thieme - On The Wilderness Road (FSI-105)


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Joe Offer
Date: 02 May 99 - 04:04 AM

Click here to get to the thread with full information on Art's CD. The lyrics are in the database - search under sheepfold or be lazy and click here.
I've found this song on a few CD's, and each seems to be connected somehow to the infamous Art Thieme. I see in the database that Art may have learned it from Jerry Epstein. Sure enough, it's on Jerry's great CD called Time Has Made a Change in Me. Here's what Jerry says in the notes:
The Massa of the Sheepfold is from a genre of pseudo-Black dialect "spirituals" that had a vogue around the turn of the century. I learned it my first summer at Pinewoods Camp (1965) from Susan Richardson Slyman. She told me that she had learned it from Bill Boyun who had collected it in Maine. Lucy simpson has found a printed version in an old hymnal where it was titled "De Massa Ob De Sheepfold." Not a prime example of political correctness in this day and age. Good song, though. I get more requests for this than for any other song.
CD's from Art and Jerry are available at Folk-Legacy Records.

Art's CD booklet goes on to say that Cindy Mangsen and Anne Hills learned it from Art and recorded it on their Never Grow Up CD, and Cindy told Art she found the poem in an "outrageous Afro-American dialect" written by Sarah Pratt McLean Greene (born in Connecticut in 1856, died in Massachusetts in 1935).
All three recordings of the song are great, but I like Art's best.
-Joe Offer-

Also see this thread.


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Arkie
Date: 02 May 99 - 10:51 PM

Campfire, Frank, & Joe, Thanks for your responses. I had been to the thread on Art's CD, but somehow missed the post by Barbara. Found it this time. The Brack Sheep thread must have been the other one I was looking for. My friend, Deborraha, will be happy to get this info. She does a nice version of the song as does Margaret Nelson from the Chicago area. Thanks also to Art for putting this fine song on a recording so it has been and can be passed on. Finally, thanks to Dale Rose who emailed further information from his research on the song. arkie


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Subject: LYR:ADD.: De Massa ob de Sheepfol'
From: Charley Noble
Date: 01 Oct 01 - 05:01 PM

There's a number of threads this information could have been added to but this one seems to be the most complete. Bill and Gene Bonyun (note correct spelling of last name) are the ones who dessiminated this song to many folk singers in New England in the 1950's and 1960's. They got the song from my mother Dahlov Ipcar, who in turn got the song from a friends of hers Wendy Holt who was said to have collected it in Texas.

An earlier version in "Negro dialect" was repronted in HEART THROBS: in Prose and Verse, published by Grosset & Dunlap, NY, in 1906, pp. 133. That version appears to be incomplete, missing a couple of lines in the second verse, not being consistent with the refrain, and lacking the chorus that most people sing now. It is attributed to Sally Pratt McLean with a question mark. I still find it interesting even in this early and somewhat incomplete form:

DE MASSA OB DE SHEEPFOL'
(By Sally Pratt McLean (?) as reprinted in Heart Throbs: in Prose & Verse, Grosset & Dunlap, NY, 1906)

De Massa ob de sheepfol'
Dat guard de sheepfol' bin,
Look out in de gloomerin' medder,
Whar de long night rain begin –
So he call to de hirelin' shepa'd,
"Is my sheep, is dey all come in?"*

"Oh," den, says de hirelin' shepa'd.
"Deys some deys black and thin,
An' some deys po' ol' wedders,**
But de res' deys all brung in;
But de res' deys all brung in."

Den de Massa ob de sheepfol'
Dat guard de sheepfol' bin,
Goes down in de gloomerin medders,
Whar de long night rain begin –
So he le' down de ba's o' de sheepfol'
Callin' sof, "Come in, come in;"
Callin' sof, "Come in, come in."

Den up t'ro de gloomerin' medders,
T'ro de col' night rain an' win',
An' up t'ro de gloomerin' rain-paf,
Whar de sleet fa's piecin' thin,
De po' los' sheep o' de sheepfol',
Dey all comes gadderin' in;
De po' los' sheep o' de sheepfol',
Dey all comes gadderin' in.***

* Missing a repeated last line as printed.
** Missing two lines as printed.
*** This is the usual form of the refrain as people now sing it.

Another version of this poem is at Bartleby.com (click)


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Art Thieme
Date: 01 Oct 01 - 11:11 PM

From Texas??? Very interesting.

Just put "Sarah Pratt McLean Greene" in a search engine and you will find all sorts of stuff even a photograph.

Love,

Art


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Art Thieme
Date: 01 Oct 01 - 11:30 PM

Here's her poem:

http://www.bartleby.com/248/1328.html

Art


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Charley Noble
Date: 02 Oct 01 - 08:29 AM

Art - I think this one has been nailed as to author, and I concede the version I pasted in above is not missing any lines as I've suggested. I do think the folk-processing that has taken place over the years has definitely improved Sarah pratt's poem.

I had the fun of singing Bill and Gene's version to Wendy Holt's family just a couple of weeks ago, when they were here in Maine for a land trust neeting. Rod Holt, the eldest son, remembered some of the verses and Phil Holt, the youngest son, has promised to make available to me his mother's notes on the songs she collected. I believe Wendy's version arrived with chorus in place and the tune. There's a little more digging to do.;-)


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: GUEST,Charley Noble
Date: 31 Oct 01 - 11:10 AM

Here's another update on this song, which provides a new clue to where the chorus came from. Wendy's (Winifred L. Holt) son Phil just dropped off three of her song notebooks and I was able to find her original notes on "De Massa ob de Sheepfol'". Wendy did attribute the words to J.M. Whyte and the lyrics she wrote down came from a Miss McLean and included the chorus as follows:

For de Massa guards de sheepfol' bin
An' he wan's to know, "Is my sheep come in?"
An' he's callin', callin'
Callin' softly, softly callin'
For dem all to come gadderin' in.

Other than that the words are very close to the original poems as described above. The words apparently came with the familar tune but there was no musical notation other than suggested keys for group singing.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: GUEST,Charley Noble
Date: 31 Oct 01 - 11:14 AM

Now that I've re-read the posts, J.M. Whyte is apparently the source for the words and chorus that Wendy wrote down.

Charley Noble, still without a Cookie


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Bill D
Date: 31 Oct 01 - 11:23 AM

here's a link to my scanned version that I posted in another thread...seems like a more 'primitive' version

Poor Lil Brack Sheep

originally in thread

http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=5364


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Jeri
Date: 31 Oct 01 - 11:34 AM

Has the tune been done yet? I could - I've actually managed to learn the song because of these threads and Art's beautiful recording.


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: MMario
Date: 31 Oct 01 - 11:46 AM

I was just about to post Jeri:

"This is still one of the "Missing Tunes"


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Art Thieme
Date: 31 Oct 01 - 04:39 PM

you can hear the tune at my part of the Waterbug Records web site. Click on my name there and then click on tha audio samples.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Art Thieme
Date: 31 Oct 01 - 04:40 PM

that's www.waterbug.com

Art


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Charley Noble
Date: 31 Oct 01 - 04:44 PM

Bill, I'm not sure which song is older but there are definately common lines.


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: MAG
Date: 31 Oct 01 - 04:52 PM

Aha, Charley, when I saw your last name on the Cat Hymn thread, I couldn't help but wonder if you were related to Dahlov Ipcar -- the only other place I've ever seen the name is on her books. I have a treasured rat-eared copy of *Hard-Scrabble Harvest* I use in storytime every year at Thanksgiving. great books. too bad they're out of print.

PS: Arkie, I wouldn't be surprised if Margaret Nelson also, directly or indirectly, got the song from Art.

MAG


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Charley Noble
Date: 31 Oct 01 - 07:48 PM

Mag- You might want to get a copy of Priscilla Herdman's "Daydreamer" CD; she put Dahlov's "Hard Scrabble Harvest" to music.


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: katlaughing
Date: 31 Oct 01 - 07:53 PM

It's so good to hear more about this song. It is one of my favourites which I've learned form Art's recording, too. I just love it. Thanks to all!

kat


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Lin in Kansas
Date: 31 Oct 01 - 11:07 PM

There's an early version (copyright 1895 by R.L. Durant, words by Sarah Pratt McLean Greene, Music by John Kimball Reynolds) on the Library of Congress American Memory site here, from the Brown University collection of African-American Sheet Music, 1850-1920.

It's not quite Art's tune, but there are definite parallels.

I've can post a Miditext of "Massa Ob De Sheepfol'" if anyone would like one.

Lin


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Art Thieme
Date: 01 Nov 01 - 12:44 AM

Lin,

That link didn't work.

Art


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: GUEST,Dale
Date: 01 Nov 01 - 12:55 AM

Well, it worked just fine for me, but after reading your comment, Art, I tried again, and it said: Temporary file open error. Display failed.

This is the best search, because it searches LOC, Brown, Duke, and a whole lot more, and not just for music, unless you want it to. American Memory Collections Just enter Massa Ob De Sheepfol' and it should come right up, even without specifying Exact Phrase.


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Charley Noble
Date: 01 Nov 01 - 09:54 AM

Lin and Dale - Thanks for the additional research leads.

The tune by John Reynolds doesn't appear to be that similar to the one that Wendy Holt and the Bonyuns sang but I'm handicapped in terms of interpreting musical notation; they just don't seem to correlate. I'm comparing the musical score from Reynolds with one transcribed by John Anthony Scott in 1960 from the singing of Gene Bonyun; Scott, I believe, was associated with the Old Sturbridge Village Museum in MA.


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Jeri
Date: 01 Nov 01 - 11:06 AM

It ain't that different, either, Charley. Just a bit complicated. I can see somebody learning the tune from the Reynolds music, and then simplifying it.
[Dead link to a MIDI of the tune from the American Memory site removed]. (Lots of "dead air," probably due to fancy left-hand piano stuff I didn't enter.)


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Charley Noble
Date: 01 Nov 01 - 01:15 PM

Jeri - I agree the MIDI you provided a link to has some resemblance to the tune I'm familar with, more of a harmony though than a melody rendition. Check out the photocopy that I'm mailing you via snail and please report back.


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Art Thieme
Date: 01 Nov 01 - 02:54 PM

Cindy first heard it from me back in '82 after I'd just got the song from Jerry Epstein at Pinewoods Camp. Heading back from Massachusetts to a gig in rochester on my way to Chicago Cindy put me up in Albany and I showed her the yet ubndeveloped song. When I couldn't sing it for her, I just played the tape I'd made of Jerry singing it. My arrangement came later and it was made to fit my style and what I could do.

Margaret Nelson is an old Chicago friend who did get it from my Folk Legacy LP.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Charley Noble
Date: 01 Nov 01 - 04:33 PM

Art - your sound sample sounds great! I guess I'll have to buy the whole thing and check it out line by line.


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Art Thieme
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 04:24 PM

Thanks Charlie!!


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Lin in Kansas
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 07:58 PM

Apologies for the bad link, fellas, and thanks to Dale for fixing it. (I've been off the 'Cat for a bit and neglected to check back on this thread.)

Art, great background info! Wanted you to know, though, that no matter who else does this one, it'll always be your voice I hear singing it.

Now if I could just get the Loch Moss Nesters out of my head... :-D

Lin


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Art Thieme
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 10:46 PM

Them birds'll nest anywhere. They ain't picky. (Do prefer locks though.)

Art ;-)


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: GUEST,Jeri (whose cookie got all weathered)
Date: 05 Nov 01 - 11:45 AM

This one is from 'Folksong In The Classrrom', which Charley Noble sent to me.

This one is how I've learned it. I got this from Art's singing, but I undoubtedly mis-remembered bits of the tune. Art, is it close?

Charley, the vocabulary notes on the photocopy are interesting. They have "glooming" instead of "gloomering," which is how I've heard it. They say "glooming" means "shining." They lyrics themselves are different from what I've learned. I'd always pictured the master going out in the remnants of a storm, when it's still dark and rainy. The way the lyrics you sent me have it, he's going out into a morning all bright and shiney from the previous night's storm. Changes the whole mood - he's gathering the sheep after the rain's over, not during the storm.

"All weathered" means turned feral? Wild sheep? I always thought that meant they were wet and miserable, possibly sick, after having been rained on. Hmmm.

And "brung" is an ancient Welsh form of the past participle of "bring?" Uh-huh...sure.


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: GUEST,Jeri (cookie lost and goodfernuthin')
Date: 05 Nov 01 - 11:53 AM

I'm bad, and hadn't thunk* about manners. Charley, many thanks for the photocopy.

*Thunk: Ancient Welsh form of the past participle of think.


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Charley Noble
Date: 05 Nov 01 - 06:36 PM

Jeri - not to worry about absolutes in this. The reason I sent you the photocopy was to give you a sense of how the Bonyuns sang the song, which they folk-processed from the "Negro" dialect of the original poem. John Scott didn't know much, if anything, about the original poem and probably assumed the song was originally from Scotland or Wales. I always heard "weathered" when the Bonyuns sang it, and though it described the storm whipped condition of the sheep but the original poem uses the term "weddas" which I believe is a sheepherd's term for useless sheep. I always loved the image of "the glooming rainpath where the long night rain begins;" just like tonight, except I'm not going out and neither is our herd of cats (so there,gang!).

Our only clue to who dreamed up the chorus appears to be Wendy's original source, J.M. Whyte, and so far none of the surviving Holts seem to remember who that was, other than Wendy was in Texas at the time. Unfortunately, Whyte is a rather common name to do further research on from scratch.


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Charley Noble
Date: 05 Nov 01 - 06:44 PM

By the way Scott's transcription of the Bonyun melody is closer to how I remember the Bonyuns singing the song, closer than Art's melody although I would characterize the two tunes as being in the same family. I don't think either are very close to the Reynolds' melody but then we don't yet have a MIDI for that so those of us who are musically illiterate can't yet compare...:-))


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Jeri
Date: 05 Nov 01 - 07:35 PM

Yeah, we had a midi of the Reynolds tune before the other ones I did. Link is up there.

(If you're getting Art's melody from my version of it, don't believe it's necessarily accurate. It's gone through my head - ANYTHING could have happened!)


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Art Thieme
Date: 05 Nov 01 - 11:35 PM

John Scott and I have been debating this song through snailmail for a long while now. I do think he now admits the possibility, if not the liklihood, that it began with Sarah Pratt McLean Greene and that the British connection was just a pet theory o' his. My tune is close to the way I heard it from Jerry Epstein but, as I said, I "arranged" it to fit what I can do---both with my guitar and my vocal limitations. And I admit to a fondness for the Bm chord when playing in the key of G. That shows up in quite a bunch of my songs. I never used barre chords though so I adapted by playing an Am chord up the neck while ignoring those strings that didn't fit in the chord.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Art Thieme
Date: 05 Nov 01 - 11:40 PM

Jeri,

I get the graphic for Winamp when I click your provided link but I can't hear it for some reason...

Art


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 06 Nov 01 - 12:46 AM


The dialectic version from the American Memory site includes:

"Dey's some, dey's black an' thin, An some, dey's po' ol weddas, but the res dey's all brung in."

Translation:

There are some, their black and thin, and some, they're poor old wethers, but the rest, they've all brung (come) in.

The meaning - as I get it - is "all the good ones are in, but there are some "black and thin ones" and some "wethers" that didn't come in.

A "wether" is a castrated male sheep. Common practice is to castrate nearly all males, since they're troublesome - to both the ewes and to the shepherds - if this is not done. Traditional lore is that the wethers produce inferior wool, and as they have no value for breeding, they are generally destined to be mutton. Relatively worthless animals.

Black and thin carries a similar connotation - worthless - because of the lower value of black wool.

The derivative term "bellwether" refers to a (usually) wethered male sheep that "leads" the flock. When sheep are turned out to "range" it is uncommon to mix rams with the flock. A wether will commonly be used, although the bellwether term is applied pretty generally to any "lead" sheep. The main purpose of the bell is for the shepherd to be able to locate the "bellwether," on the assumption that the rest will be nearby.

The phrase "The Master ... look out in de gloomerin' meadows, Where de long night rain begin," I would read, to mean 'looked out at the darkening meadows, where the long night rain (is) begin(ning).'

In this version, it seems more fitting to interpret that the Master is wanting the sheep in as darkness is coming on and it is beginning to rain, than that he's going out in the morning to count the dead (which often is the result of having wool-laden sheep out in a heavy rain.)

John


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Charley Noble
Date: 06 Nov 01 - 08:37 AM

John in Kansas - that all makes very good sense to me, and not a sheep joke anywhere in your remarks. What restraint!


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Jeri
Date: 06 Nov 01 - 09:13 AM

Art, I monkeyed with some stuff (but the link is still dead) - it may work now. It may not. I could e-mail it to you to see if that worked any better, but I don't know if you want to be bothered. (Could also print & scan the dots, and stick 'em on the page.)

There are some variations in rhythm between the Bonyon tune in Songs In The Classroom and the tune I learned, and some melodic variations. The biggest one is in the verse:
And he calls to his hireling shepherd
"Is my sheep, is they all brung
in"
- the Bonyon tune is on the 1st of the chord, and I sing on the 3rd. I've probably got it wrong.

I listen to your album again and try to clean up the midi for anyone else who listens. Better they should buy your recording!


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 04 May 03 - 10:06 PM

"De Massa ob de Sheepfol'" has been adopted by Negro churches, especially in eastern Canada, but I am told it has been used in some churches all through the east coast area.
This is a fairly recent case of a composed song being taken up and slightly changed to enter into the spiritual-gospel realm.
William Mallory, an escaped slave who got to Canada, wrote a little book about his experiences, and included about a dozen spirituals, of which "De Massa ob de Sheepfol'" is one! Of course, the Massa is God and the Sheepfol' is the congregation; He waits until all the strays (sinners) comes gadderin' in- the meaning that Sarah Greene intended.
There is little difference from the original by Sarah Pratt McLean Greene, as she wrote it in 1895, but the following is the way it is given in Mallory's little book:

17. De Massa ob de Sheepfol'

De massa ob de sheepfol'
Dat guards de sheepfol' bin
Looks out in the gloomerin' meadow
Where the long night rain begins,
"So he calls to the hirelin' shepherd:
Is my sheep is dey all come in." - Repeat.

Chorus:
Oh de Massa guards de sheepfol' bin,
And he wants to know is my sheep come in,
And he calling, calling, calling softly, softly,
Calling for dem all to come agadderin' in.

Oh den says de hirelin shepherd,
Der's some dey's black and thin,
And some dey is poor old wedders
Dat can't come home again.
"Dey is lost and good fa nuffin,
And the rest dey is all brung in."- Repeat.

Den de massa ob de sheepfol'
Dat guards de sheepfol' bin,
Goes down in the gloomerin' meadow
Where the long night begins,
So he lets down the bars of the sheepfol'
Calling softly come in, come in." - Repeat.

Then up thro' the gloomerin' meadow
Thro' the cold night rain and wind,
Then up thro' the gloomerin' rain path
Where the sleet falls piercing thin,
The poor lost sheep of the sheepfol'
Dey all comes agaddering in. - Repeat.

Col. Wm. Mallory, Ex-Slave, "Old Plantation Days," 1902. Although several editions were printed, this is apparently a very rare book.
He was born in 1826, date of death not cited. Where the Col. came from, I don't know. Book reproduced in full, Univ. North Carolina website.
Mallory
In another thread, Art Thieme eliminated the dialect.


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 04 May 03 - 10:19 PM

Postscript. What music did Mallory hear? Probably several tunes out there in addition to that published by Reynolds. His full sheet music is in the African-American Sheet Music Collection, 1850-1920, from Brown University, in American Memory, Library of Congress.
Try: De Massa ob de Sheepfol'

I have posted this before, but it is useful. The full list of sheet music in the African-American Collection is at: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/award97/rpbhtml/aasmTitles01.html


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Subject: RE: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Charley Noble
Date: 05 May 03 - 08:03 AM

Thanks for refreshing this!

Good to hear the song is alive and well in Eastern Canada.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Master of the Sheepfold
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 05 May 03 - 11:29 AM

Art Thieme's mis-attribution of the song to "someone in Maine" has been taken up on several websites and one states "unknown."
The mis-attribution (of the sanitized PC version) is repeated in the DT. Sarah Pratt McLean Greene was, and remains the author.
It is amusing that the "outrageous" dialect was taken up by a former Negro slave and printed with his other spiritual songs.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Art Thieme
Date: 05 May 03 - 05:19 PM

Folks,

If you read this thread, you will see that I say here that the song is from the poem in Afro-American dialect by Sarah Pratt McLean Greene.

I never said it was "from someone in Maine" !!! Another person who posted my lyric said that and tangentially sort of attributed it to me. In the notes to my 1980s LP for Folk Legacy Records where I recorded it the first of two times, I said that I got it from the singing of Jerry Epstein at Pinewoods Camp in Massachusetts--August of 1982)---and that Dr. Epstein had said that the song was brought to Pinewoods Camp by Susan Richardson. It was Susan Richardson who told Jerry that it had come through Bill Bonyun.

When I was about to put this song on a recording for the second time, my good friend, Cindy Mangsen, sent me the words to Ms Sarah Pratt McLean Greene's poem. After that I always felt, and indeed, said to anyone who would listen, that the poem was probably the source of the song. When the notes to my 1998 CD THE OLDER I GET, THE BETTER I WAS were printed, I gave credit to Ms Greene and my source for the song, Dr. Epstein.

If someone stuck the song on line or in a book or whatever saying that I had said it was "from someone in Maine", they phrased it that way, in all probability, because I'd said it "came from Bill Bonyun in Maine"----BUT whoever posted the song didn't remember the name of the "someone in Maine" it had come from---so they reported what they did remember.

And it was me, Arthur David Thieme, who changed it to "master" instead of "massa" etc., etc., I did that because for me to sing it with that "outrageous dialect" would've been phony as hell, not me at all, and as racist as any minstrel who sang in blackface while prancing around the stage like Steppen Fetchit (spelling?). I have always felt that to try to get/catch the early Afro-American dialect by corrupting the English language printed word was simply wrong.

People, this song to me is about INCLUSION-----not exclusion. That's all. It's saying that there should be room for all points on the compass----all viewpoints---all religions. I admit that my feelings in this regard are tempered by my own personal experiences with narrow and exclusive aspects of religions that impinge on my life quite often. That is why I learned the song. That is why I like the song. That is why I wanted others to learn and like the song. I was proclaiming and taking a stand against exclusion when I sang it. Other Biblical references you might see in it are peripheral for me, but that's O.K. ;-) Sing it any way you want to sing it. Have it mean anything at all that you want it to mean.

I am simply glad that I had a role in getting this good song out there. It is cool as hell that few know I was the first to record it or that I was the guy who morphed it !!!!!! ;-) You can't get much more traditional than that.

Please, don't ever tell anybody these facts !

And PLEASE, don't throw ol' Art into the BRIAR PATCH !!!

Love,

Art Thieme---alias Br'er Rabbit----alias Coyote>

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Origins: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Charley Noble
Date: 05 May 03 - 05:35 PM

Art-

Here's my attempt to re-clarify!

My old friend and mentor Bill Bonyun does deserve major credit for reviving this fine old song, and from there the trail goes from Richardson to Epstein. If you want the trail from before Bill Bonyun rearranged the poem and put it to music, it's from my parents Adolph and Dahlov Ipcar who got the poem in the dialect form from Winifred "Wendy" Holt who collected it in Texas in the early 1940's; I still have Wendy's notes and her version is very close to the original poem by Sarah Pratt McLean Greene and is attributed to her.

Charlie Ipcar, aka Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Master of the Sheepfold
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 05 May 03 - 06:34 PM

Sorry if I sounded offensive in my post. I was proceding mostly from the DT, where the song is still credited "(Art Thieme, from someone in Maine, from Jerry Epstein?)." I see now that the poster was "Rpf."

I saw, but didn't see ( or remember!!) the posts by you that put links to the song in Bartleby and to a photo of Sarah Green.
My interest is songs is mostly historical, rather than in revised versions for singing.
My apologies again for what looks to me, now, as a rather stupid post.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Art Thieme
Date: 05 May 03 - 11:01 PM

And if I reacted too strongly, please accept my heartfelt SORRY FOLKS. This is a great discussion of a fine song. To have all of our input here in one place where it can be found is amazing and pretty darn cool as well.

Art


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Subject: RE: Origins: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Art Thieme
Date: 05 May 03 - 11:30 PM

Also, sorry for repeating myself. I had forgotten what I had already posted previously.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Origins: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Charley Noble
Date: 06 May 03 - 08:10 AM

Who would bother to read what had been posted before? That's history!

I'm still not sure who composed the tune but my mother this morning confirmed that her old friend Wendy had collected the tune as well as the words while she was living in Texas.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Master of the Sheepfold
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 05 Aug 03 - 07:27 AM

A few weeks ago I was helping to clean out a closet in the little community church in my village (white clapboard on the village green- very lovely) and came upon some old hymnals in decrepit condition. The other cleaners were for throwing them out, so I gleaned one copy of each type of hymnal. I was looking through one last night in hopes of finding something I could use (kind of like panning for gold- lots of dross, not much of any current value, at least in terms of the singing I do). What what to my wondering eyes should appear but "De Massa ob de Sheepfol'" attributed to Miss McLean and J.M.Whyte, copyright 1886 by R. R. McCabe!
The tune is similar, but not identical to Art's. I haven't checked the links above to compare it.
I could scan it if anyone's interested in seeing it. PM me!
The cover of the hymnal is so faded that all I can see is the words "Finest of the..." and in smaller letters, "combined". No title page. Most of the hymns are yawningly similar to each other; the book clearly dates back to one of the revival periods when the emphasis was on sin, salvation, being washed in the Blood, and telling the world about it. I was interested in the prevalence of the concept of "I" as opposed to the tone in most shapenote songs of a previous century, which are more general. Then along came this gem!
I've enjoyed this thread each time it's resurfaced, and I'm pleased to be able to contribute to it- it's such a great song!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Master of the Sheepfold
From: GUEST,Arkie
Date: 05 Aug 03 - 12:02 PM

Thanks to all who have posted here. Threads like this are the main reason I keep tuning in to the Mudcat Cafe and what one hopes for when a request is submitted. There is far more than academic and historical information. The personal touches add so much to the overall picture. Everything together is what makes Mudcat such a valuable and useful resource.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Bill D
Date: 05 Aug 03 - 05:11 PM

Because my old link to my FortuneCity site has long gone, here is a reduced re-scan of the version I have in my old book (for the scholars among you)...seems it got re-copywrot in various forms over the years...

and here is the old thread with a few other commentshttp://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=5364


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Subject: RE: Origins: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Charley Noble
Date: 05 Aug 03 - 09:25 PM

Pleased to hear that the tune that our old family friend, Wendy Holt, collected with the song is apparently similar to what Art has recorded.
I'd love to hear a MIDI or MP3 sample.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Jeri
Date: 05 Aug 03 - 10:04 PM

Charley, see my post of 05 Nov 01 - 11:45 AM.

I tried to do a MIDI of Art's version. I think it's a pretty good representation, but I don't know if Art ever tried to get it to work after I messed around with it, so I don't know what he thinks.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Bill D
Date: 05 Aug 03 - 10:31 PM

Jeri..it is a quite decent midi of the tune...I 'thought' a couple of the notes were slightly different, but I'd need to go play the record to be sure...it is sure good enough to give the feel of it!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Master of the Sheepfold
From: GUEST,pholt@maine.rr.com
Date: 18 Apr 04 - 11:09 PM

Charley,

I'm looking at My mother's song book and "De Massa ob de Sheepfol" SHe has credited Miss McClean and J.M. Whyte. So she must have found it in the same hymn book as "Animaterra." By I can remember her singing it to me as a lullaby when I was quite young. I'd guess she added it to her collection sometim in the 1930's.

Phil Holt


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Subject: RE: Origins: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Barbara
Date: 19 Apr 04 - 01:12 AM

And I have popularized this song a number of places on the west coast where I have lived, because I love it, and I learned it from Charlie when we both were students at Michigan State University. Probably 1967 or so. He was fresh out of the Peace Corps, playing the banjo he "borrowed" from his brother, and cooking us Ethiopian stews so hot we had to spray 'em with the fire extinguisher before we could get close to 'em.

I was pleased to click on the tune from his mother's songbook, transcribed by Jeri, and discover it hadn't got too far from what I sing these days. I've apparently modified one of the verse lines, but most is the same. Yay. I was afraid it had migrated more than that over time and distance. Thank you, Charlie (Charley).

Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: Origins: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Charley Noble
Date: 19 Apr 04 - 10:11 AM

Barbara-

Just to fill in a little here. Phil's mother Wendy Holt collected the song and passed it on to my mother, Dahlov Ipcar, who sang it to Bill and Gene Bonyun. Bill and Jean deserve the major credit for recording the song and making it available to a larger folk music community, but Wendy was the one who recognized that this song was worth reviving.

Wendy's song notes have been a valuable source for me as well, in that she also collected a lot of songs from Ella Robinson Madison, a Black woman who was nursemaid to my mother in the 1920's; Ella toured internationally with several black minstel bands in the late 19th century and sang in an early production of Porgy in the 1930's.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Master of the Sheepfold
From: WooBerry
Date: 03 Dec 05 - 12:11 AM

There is a clear scriptural allusion here, I don't think there is any question that this belongs in the "spiritual" group by its subject matter. As for the other needed qualifications, I will accede to the musicians here.


John 10
The Shepherd and His Flock
2The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. 3The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice."

10"I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
11"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

14"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd."


Diana


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Subject: RE: Origins: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Charley Noble
Date: 16 Aug 06 - 11:55 AM

Refresh for "Adam" who is wondering about the origins of this fine song.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Bill D
Date: 16 Aug 06 - 12:30 PM

and, wonder of wonders, I see that my link to a scan of the old "Brack Sheep" version in a songbook IS still there, while the later one, on an old server, is gone.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Master of the Sheepfold
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 16 Aug 06 - 02:59 PM

Sarah Pratt McLean Greene (1856-1935), author of poems including "De Massa ob de Sheepfol'," and "The Lamp," is best known for her books about Cape Cod fishermen, including "Cape Cod Folks."
A photograph of her is found at http://www.lehigh.edu/~dek7/SSAWW/phoypGreene.htm

An incomplete bio. may be found at http://poetry.poetryx.com/poets/233/bio

"De Massa ..." may be found at the same website, and in Bartleby at http://www.bartleby.com/267/108.html.

"The Lamp" is reproduced at http://www2.bartleby.com/248/1327.html


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