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DT Study: I Cannot Call Her Mother / Stepmother

DigiTrad:
I CAN NOT CALL HER MOTHER


Joe Offer 05 Jul 12 - 04:09 PM
Joe Offer 05 Jul 12 - 04:33 PM
Joe Offer 05 Jul 12 - 06:37 PM
GUEST,999 05 Jul 12 - 06:49 PM
Joe Offer 05 Jul 12 - 06:52 PM
GUEST,99 05 Jul 12 - 07:11 PM
Joe Offer 05 Jul 12 - 11:59 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 06 Jul 12 - 02:22 AM
Joe Offer 06 Jul 12 - 05:18 PM
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Subject: ADD: I Cannot Call Her Mother (Henry Harrison)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 04:09 PM

This is an edited DTStudy thread, and all messages posted here are subject to editing and deletion.
This thread is intended to serve as a forum for corrections and annotations for the Digital Tradition song named in the title of this thread.

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Bob Coltman posted this in another thread, but I thought I'd post it here to make it easier to find. I found the same lyrics in Rambling Blues: The life and songs of Charlie Poole by Kinney Rorrer (1982 - page 79). There are some mistakes in the Rorrer transcription - note "wreathe my face is smiling."

I CANNOT CALL HER MOTHER
[Charlie Poole version]
(Henry Harrison, 1855)

The marriage rite is over
Although I turn aside
To keep the guests from seeing
The tears I could not hide

I wreathe my face is smiling
And I left my little brother
To greet my father's chosen
But he could not call her mother

She is a fair young creature
With meek and gentle airs
With blue eyes soft and loving
And silk and sunny hair

I know my father gives her
A love he had for another
If she were an angel
I could not call her mother

My father's in the sunshine
Of happy days to come
They have forgot the shadows
That darkened our old home

His heart is no more lonely
But me and little brother
Must still be orphan children
God gives us but one mother

Here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry on this song:

    I Cannot Call Her Mother (The Marriage Rite is Over; The Stepmother)

    DESCRIPTION: "The marriage rite is over," and the children have seen their father take a new wife. Their mother's picture is replaced by the pretty new girl's. The child "could not call her mother." She calls herself an orphan; "God gave us but one mother."
    AUTHOR: Henry Harrison
    EARLIEST DATE: 1855 (date of composition)
    KEYWORDS: family marriage mother father children stepmother orphan
    FOUND IN: US(So)
    REFERENCES (5 citations):
    Randolph 726, "The Stepmother" (3 texts, 1 tune)
    Rorrer, p. 79, "I Cannot Call Her Mother" (1 text)
    Huntington-Whalemen, pp. 298-299, "I Can Not Call Her Mother" (1 text, 1 tune)
    cf. Gardner/Chickering, p. 482, "The Stepmother" (source notes only)
    ADDITIONAL: Fred W. Allsopp, Folklore of Romantic Arkansas, Volume II (1931), pp. 201-202, "(The Stepmother)" (1 short text)

    ST R726 (Partial)
    Roud #2091
    RECORDINGS:
    Bradley Kincaid, "I Cannot Call Her Mother" (Supertone 9565, 1929; Champion 15968, 1930 [as Dan Hughey])
    [Roy Harvey and the] North Carolina Ramblers "I Cannot Call Her Mother" (Silvertone 5181 [as The Three Kentucky Serenaders], 1927; Supertone 9246/Silvertone 8147, 1928)
    Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers, "I Cannot Call Her Mother" (Columbia 15307-D, 1928)

    CROSS-REFERENCES:
    cf. "The Blind Child" (theme)
    File: R726

    Go to the Ballad Search form
    Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
    Go to the Bibliography
    Go to the Discography

    The Ballad Index Copyright 2011 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: DT Version: I Can Not Call Her Mother
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 04:33 PM

The Digital Tradition version is an exact transcription of the lyrics and tune from Huntington, Songs the Whalemen Sang:

I CAN NOT CALL HER MOTHER

The wedding rite is over
And though I turn aside
To keep the guests from seeing
My tears I can not hide

I wreathed my face in smiling
As I led my little brother
To greet my father's chosen one
But I could not call her mother

My father in the sunshine
Of brighter days to come
May half forget the shadow
That darkens our old home

His heart is no more lonely
But I and little brother
It's orphans we shall ever be
God can give us but one mother

They have born (sic) my mother's picture
From its accustomed place
And placed beside my father's
A younger, fairer face

And they have made her chamber dear
The boudoir of another
But I can not forget her
My own my angel mother

From Songs the Whalemen Sang, Huntington
From the Journal of the Lexington, 1853
@family @mother @marriage
filename[ NOTMOTHR
TUNE FILE: NOTMOTHR
CLICK TO PLAY
RG

This page which quotes a letter from The Lexington, has an additional verse about the stepmother singing the mother's song.


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Subject: ADD Version: I Cannot Call Her Mother
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 06:37 PM

I found this version at http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk. It's taken from Wehman's Universal Songster - complete collection of 61 volumes (Volume 32). It includes an additional verse about the stepmother singing a song the mother used to sing, and I think that makes the lyrics feel more complete.

I CANNOT CALL HER MOTHER.

The marriage rite is over; and though I turn aside.
To keep the guests from seeing the tears I could not hide,
I wreathed my face in smiling, and led my little brother
To greet my father's chosen-but I could not call her mother.

She is a fair young creature, with meek and gentle air;
With blue eyes soft and loving, And silken, sunny hair.
I know my father gives her the love he bore another;
But, if she were an angel, I could not call her mother.

To-night I heard her singing a song I used to love,
When its sweet notes were uttered by her who sings above;
It pained my heart to hear it, for my tears I could not smother,
For every word was hallowed by the dear voice of my mother.

My father, in the sunshine of happy days to come.
May half forget the shadow that darkened our old home.
His heart no more is lonely; but me and little brother
Must still be orphan children-God can give us but one mother.

Click here for three versions from Randolph.

There's another melody in a book titled Singing in Zion.


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Subject: RE: DT Study: I Cannot Call Her Mother
From: GUEST,999
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 06:49 PM

Hi, Joe. Please see the following link where the date is 1854. Note that if you click on the cover page of the sheet music, the pages then come one-by-one as ya click again, etc. As an added bonus, the lyrics are there, too. Check out


http://diglib.lib.utk.edu/utsmc/main.php?bid=1085

I tried to hot-link that but it was really slow.


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Subject: ADD Version: I Cannot Call Her Mother
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 06:52 PM

This version is a poem printed in the Rockland County Messenger (New York State), 8 June 1854. These same lyrics are also found in sheet music, with three different tunes.

I CANNOT CALL HER MOTHER
(by Miss Sarah T. Bolton)

The marriage rite is over,
And though I turned aside,
To keep the guests from seeing
The tears I could not hide,
I wreath'd my face in smiling,
And led my little brother,
To greet my father's chosen,
But I could not call her mother.

She is a fair young creature,
With a meek and gentle air,
With blue eyes soft and loving,
And silken sunny hair—
I know my father gives her
The love he bore another,
But if she were an angel
I could not call her mother.

To night I heard her singing
A song I used to love,
When its sweet notes were uttered
By her who sings above:
It pained my heart to hear it,
And my tears I could not smother,
For every word was hallowed
By the dear voice of my mother.

My father, in the sunshine
Of happy days to come,
May half forget the shadow
That darkened our old home;
His heart no more is lonely,
But me and little brother
Must still be orphan children,
God can give us but one mother.

They've borne my mother's picture
From its accustomed place,
And set beside my father's
A younger, fairer face;
They've made her dear old chamber
The boudoir of another,
But I will not forget thee,
My own, my angel mother.

Duke University has sheet music, published 1854. Lyrics by Sarah T. Bolton, melody by R. Sinclair.



This page has sheet music published 1855 with music by Harry Harrison and unattributed lyrics.

This page (published 1880) has music by W.P. Chamberlain and unattributed lyrics.

This page (published 1854) has music attributed to R. Sinclair and the same lyrics, attributed to Mrs. Sarah Bolton.


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Subject: RE: DT Study: I Cannot Call Her Mother
From: GUEST,99
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 07:11 PM

"They've borne my mother's picture
From its accustomed piece,
And let beside my father's
A younger, fairer face;"

I think

Line 2: Piece should be place
Line 3: let should be left

Ooops! I got sloppy at the end. Thanks for the heads-up. I made the corrections - line 3 is "set," not "let."

Sheet music is at Duke and American Memory Collection (Library of Congress). I haven't seen sheet music at UTK before (University of Tennessee Knoxville) - that's a great "find," and a good addition to their songbook index.


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Subject: ADD Version: The Stepmother
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 11:59 PM

There's a nice recording of this song by Loman Cansler under the title "The Stepmother" on a 1973 Smithsonian/Folkways album titled Folksongs of the Midwest (available on Spotify). Here are the notes and lyrics from Cansler's recording:

    My wife's maternal grandmother, Edith (Miner) Walker (1869-1941), compiled a remembrance or manuscript book between the ages of twelve and fifteen. She lived in Knox County, Illinois. Among the songs that I copied from the book in December, 1951, was "The Stepmother."

    During the summer of 1954, in Peoria County, I collected a shorter version and the tune of this song from eighty-eight-year-old Mrs. Etta (Camp) Conover. The next summer, Mrs. Ivy Stemler, from the same Illinois county, sang a version similar in content and melody to that of Mrs. Conover. She called it "I Could Not Call Her Mother." (Mrs. Stemler was born in Lee County in 1871.)

    When I played these versions for my Mother-in-Law, Lillie McElwain, she thought their melodies went about the same as she remembered her mother singing the the song.

    Some people tend to lump such songs as "The Stepmother" as sentimental tear-jerkers, or some other title implying make-believe or contrived situations. That such songs do exist, I will admit. But, I have known a number of high school youth who have wrestled with the attitudes and deep-seated feelings that are portrayed in this song. In fact, Mrs. Conover's chuckle that June day in 1954 spanned eighty-odd years and revealed a similar deep-seated emotion, when she told how an older friend, Jennie, who had a stepmother, used to sing this song and substitute "a darn sight blacker face" instead of the words, "a fairer younger face."

    THE STEPMOTHER

    The marriage vow was over
    And I turned myself aside,
    To keep the guests from seeing
    Those tears I could not hide.
    I wreathed myself in smiles
    And led my little brother
    To greet my father's chosen
    But I could not call her Mother.

    She was a fair young creature
    With meek and gentle air,
    With blue eyes soft and lovely,
    And dark and sunny hair.
    I knew my father gave her
    The love he bore another,
    But if she were angel
    Oh, I could not call her Mother.

    Last night I heard her singing
    Those songs I used to love,
    When every word was uttered
    By the one that sings above,
    It pained my heart to hear her;
    Those tears I could not smother,
    When every note was uttered
    By the dear voice of my Mother.

    They changed my Mother's portrait
    From its old accustomed place,
    And hung beside my father's
    A fairer, younger face.
    They made her dear old chamber
    The boudoir of another,
    But still I can't forget her,
    My own, my angel, Mother.

    My father in the sunshine
    Of happier days to come,
    Will not forget the sorrow
    Which darkens our dear home.
    But he is no more lonely,
    But I and little brother
    Must still be orphan children,
    God gave us but one Mother.



    Notes:
    Edith (Miner) Walker arranged this song in four lines each. Mrs. Stemler's handwritten copy showed stanzas of four lines, also, but the portion of the song she sang for me was a stanza with eight lines.

    For this album I have borrowed four lines found in both the versions from Peoria County to form the last part of stanza four. Making the real mother's chamber "...the boudoir of another..." adds to the completeness of this song and readies the listener for the ultimate expression of ambivalence.


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Subject: RE: DT Study: I Cannot Call Her Mother / Stepmother
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 06 Jul 12 - 02:22 AM

Does this song come from a play or something? Seems like a composed song from the lyrics.


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Subject: RE: DT Study: I Cannot Call Her Mother / Stepmother
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 Jul 12 - 05:18 PM

Yes, Morwen, it's a composed song that has become somewhat of a standard in the folk and bluegrass genres. See this message - apparently the lyrics were published in 1854, written by Sarah T. Bolton. There have been various melodies tied to these lyrics.

I'm still puzzled about the lyrics in the Digital Tradition and in Gale Huntington's Songs the Whalemen Sang. Huntington's lyrics reportedly came from the 1853 journal of the Lexington. This page which quotes a letter from The Lexington, has an additional verse about the stepmother singing the mother's song. Anybody want to go to the whaling museum in Nantucket and check the Lexington journal?
-Joe-


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