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Witness for my Lord: Origin and Lyrics

Related thread:
Lyr Add: My Soul Is a Witness for My Lord (2)


Richie 27 Mar 10 - 01:47 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 27 Mar 10 - 04:28 PM
Richie 27 Mar 10 - 06:19 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 27 Mar 10 - 07:28 PM
Joe Offer 27 Mar 10 - 08:08 PM
Richie 27 Mar 10 - 08:27 PM
Richie 27 Mar 10 - 09:00 PM
Richie 27 Mar 10 - 10:38 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 27 Mar 10 - 11:19 PM
Richie 29 Mar 10 - 09:29 PM
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Subject: Witness for my Lord: Origin and Lyrics
From: Richie
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 01:47 PM

There's one song in the DT but I was wondering about early versions. The only early version I could find was 1909 version by Odum.

Anyone have lyrics or info?

Richie


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Subject: RE: Witness for my Lord: Origin and Lyrics
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 04:28 PM

More than one song, but few versions that seem to have an early date.

The Fisk Jubilee Singers, on record, sang My Soul Is a Witness for My Lord, CoGB A-3819, but I don't find that in the 19th C. book by Marsh, etc. I haven't seen a transcription of the lyrics.

There is a Witness for My Lord in Johnson, Utica Jubilee Singers Spirituals but I think this is rather late. I don't have the book.

There is one in negrospirituals.com, again probably a late version, much simplified but perhaps based on the one in Odum and Johnson, The Negro and His Songs.
A variation by the concert group Park New Choir, in thread 39224, is similar to the one in negrospirituals.com. This seems to be the one often sung today, but it is a late variety.

I presume, from your request, that you have the Odum and Johnson, which runs some 12 verses. It is the most expressive of the lot.


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Subject: ADD: That's Another Witness For My Lord
From: Richie
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 06:19 PM

From Odum 1909 in Religious Folk-Songs of the Southern Negroes 89

Almost equally interesting is "That's another Witness for my Lord." It will be noticed in these songs that references and phrases taken from the old songs are often used, but in different combinations.
They thus lose their former worth. It will be interesting, too, to compare the negro's religious conceptions of the Bible and God as
expressed in these songs with those expressed in the older productions: Has he advanced in his theology?

THAT'S ANOTHER WITNESS FOR MY LORD

Read in Genesis, you understand,
Methuselah was the oldest man.
Lived nine hundred and sixty -nine.
Died and went to heaven in due time.

Methuselah is a witness for my Lord,
Methuselah is a witness for my Lord.


You read about Sampson from his birth,
Strongest man that lived on the earth,
'Way back yonder in ancient times.
He slayed three thousand of the Philistines.

Sampson he went wanderin' about,
For his strength had n't been found out.
His wife dropped down upon her knees.
Said: "Sampson, tell me where your strength lies, please."

Delila' talked so good and fair;
He told her his strength lie in his hair;
"Shave my head just as clean as your hands.
And my strength'll be like a *nachual man's."

Wasn't that a witness for my Lord?
Wasn't that a witness for my Lord?


Isaiah mounted on de wheel o' time,
Spoke to God-er-mighty way down the line:
Said, "O Lord, to me reveal,
How can this vile race be healed?"

God said: "Tell the sons of men.
Unto them'll be born a king,
Them that believe upon his Way,
They shall rest in the latter day."

Isaiah was a witness for my Lord,
Isaiah was a witness for my Lord.


There was a man amongst the Pharisees,
Named Nicodemus and he didn't believe.
He went to the Master in the night,
And told him to take him out er human sight.

"You are the Christ, I'm sure it's true.
For none do de miracles dat you do.
But how can a man, now old in sin.
Turn back still and be born again? "

Christ said, "Man, if you want to be wise,
You'd better repent and be baptized;
Believe on me, the Son of Man,
Then you will be born'd again."

Wasn't that a witness for my Lord?
Wasn't that a witness for my Lord?


*natural


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Subject: RE: Witness for my Lord: Origin and Lyrics
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 07:28 PM

For those interested in the spirituals collected by Odum-

Howard W. Odum, 1909, Religious Folk-songs of the Southern Negroes, Journal of Religious Psychology and Education, vol. 3, pp. 265-365. About 100 songs.
Reprinted as a separate, c. 1909; online at www.archive.org

Odum, H. W. and Johnson, G. B., 1925, The Negro and His Songs, A Study of Typical Negro Songs in the South, Univ. North Carolina Press; Reprint Negro Universities Press, 1968.

Both contain Witness for My Lord as posted above by Richie.


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Subject: ADD Version: We Need Another Witness
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 08:08 PM

Richie, I couldn't find a version in the Digital Tradition - what title is it listed under?

Pete and Toshi Seeger collected and recorded a version of this in the winter of 1951 sung by the Prisoners at the Ramsey and Retrieve State Farms, Texas. It's on the Smithsonian Folkways recording, Negro Prison Camp Worksongs.

WE NEED ANOTHER WITNESS

Oh,well, we need another witness for my Lord
Why don't you come and be a witness for my Lord
Oh, be a sanctified witness...(group response continue)
And be a Holy Ghost witness...
And be a number one witness...
And be a witness in the wilderness...
Oh, Jack o'Diamonds was a witness...
He was a number one witness...
He was a sanctified witness...
He was a Holy Ghost witness...
He was a true, true witness...
He was a number one witness...
Jack o'Diamonds was a witness...
And Tommy Weather was a witness...
And Rocky Mountain was a witness...
Well, Old Jonah was a witness...
And Sister Mary was a witness...
And Sister Marthy was a witness...


(New Soloist)
Well, there's peace for (Peedle??) and it (works?)
Tell everybody not to judge, yeah
Read a little further and you'll find it here, yeah
Judge a tree by thre fruit it bear, yeah.

Well, Peter was a witness for my Lord
Well, now, Peter was a witness...
Well, I need another witness....
Well, I need another witness....

Sister Sally got to shouting at church one night, yeah
Sister Jane hold her and she didn't hold right, yeah
I am the person that talk very plain, yeah
Had to tell Sally, don't you call my name, yeah
Don't you tell Sally in God I trust, yeah
Scared to tell Sally 'cause I'm scared it may go bust.

Oh, the valley was a witness for my Lord
Well, now, the valley was a witness...
Well, I need another witness....
Well, I need another witness....

Well, the angel come from the cloud
Spoke Ezekiel and his voice sound loud, yeah
Angel in the vigil spoke Ezekiel, yeah
In his hand there was a golden chip, yeah
Got my shekel and (...)
Moses ground up the golden cash (calf?)
Cash in the water burned bitter as gall.

Oh, Moses was a witness for my Lord
Oh, Moses was a witness...
Come on and be a witness....
Come on and be a witness....
Well my soul is a witness....
Well my soul is a witness....


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Subject: RE: Witness for my Lord: Origin and Lyrics
From: Richie
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 08:27 PM

Joe,

There are two versions in the DT posted by Susan in the Spirituals thread. I can't find anything because the searceh engine doesn't seem to work- what's with that?

Anyway, there were two versions found in Wake up dead man: hard labor and Southern blues By Bruce Jackson.

I believe the one you posted is one of those that was used by Seegar.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Witness for my Lord: Origin and Lyrics
From: Richie
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 09:00 PM

Does anyone have Arizona Dranes version titled "My Soul Is A Witness For The Lord" ?


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Subject: RE: Witness for my Lord: Origin and Lyrics
From: Richie
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 10:38 PM

Wake up dead man: hard labor and Southern blues By Bruce Jackson.


http://books.google.com/books?id=2dmclpLO18UC&pg=RA1-PA180&lpg=RA1-PA183&dq=witness+for+my+lord&ie=ISO-8859-1&output=html


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Subject: RE: Witness for my Lord: Origin and Lyrics
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Mar 10 - 11:19 PM

Joe, there are two in the Spirituals permathread, the Park choir version I mentioned above, and one not documented. I can't find that either made it to the DT.

The most complete (and traditional) is the one posted above by Richie- perhaps you could give it a proper LYR. ADD heading so that it can be found again.


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Subject: RE: Witness for my Lord: Origin and Lyrics
From: Richie
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 09:29 PM

Here's Arizona Dranes version:

MY SOUL IS A WITNESS FOR MY LORD- Arizona Dranes 1926
The lead (dranes) sings: "My soul's a witness for my Lord" on the last line of the CHORUS- the back-up singers sing (for my Lord) with her. Transcribed: R. Matteson


Piano intro

CHORUS: Witness (for my Lord)
Witness (for my Lord)
Witness (for my Lord)
My soul's a witness (for my Lord)

Read the scripture, we are told,
We have the way to see God's soul.
In the dark, thistle and hedges
Down beneath the dam, where the golden wedge is.

Got a steeple, and a staff
Moses 'round the, golden calf.
Put it in the water, turned bitter as gall,
Children of the Lord, couldn't drink at all.

CHORUS: Witness (for my Lord)
Witness (for my Lord)
Witness (for my Lord)
My soul's a witness (for my Lord)

[Piano solo]

God is the way, said the Son
God stood with him till the work was done
Work was done, children shouted
God from Heaven began to look out.

Got it to twelve got up to seven
The walls fell down and I heard it in Heaven
*Stop the Son, the battle is one,
Stop the Son the battle is two
Stop the Son the battle is three
God has made the sinner free.

Stop the Son, battle is four
God says man has war no more.
Stop the Son, battle is five,
God and man have reconciled.
Stop the Son, battle is seven
The walls fell down and I heard it in Heaven.

CHORUS: Witness (for my Lord)
Witness (for my Lord)
Witness (for my Lord)
My soul's a witness (for my Lord)

CHORUS: I'm a witness (for my Lord)
I'm a witness (for my Lord)
I'm a witness (for my Lord)
My soul's a witness (for my Lord)

*Said (seems like this is the correct word- sounds like "Stop")


Joe- there are a couple lines that you can fix in your transcription one is: Put it in the water, turned bitter as gall,


Richie


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