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Lyr Req: Some Must Push and Some Must Pull

Ferrara 30 Sep 97 - 02:00 AM
Jon W. 30 Sep 97 - 11:06 AM
Jon W. 30 Sep 97 - 04:24 PM
Ferrara 30 Sep 97 - 05:11 PM
Joe Offer 30 Sep 97 - 05:22 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 15 Jun 02 - 11:55 PM
masato sakurai 16 Jun 02 - 03:02 AM
katlaughing 16 Jun 02 - 03:43 AM
GUEST 16 Jul 12 - 06:09 PM
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Subject: Some Must Push and Some Must Pull
From: Ferrara
Date: 30 Sep 97 - 02:00 AM

Does anyone know the words and/or history of this Mormon children's song? I've been told that it was sung by Mormon pioneers crossing the plains in "handcart companies"; these folks had a few mule-drawn wagons, but each family transported their belongings in a huge, heavy wooden cart which they literally pushed and pulled across country to Utah. Mind boggling.

Part of the song goes like this:

"Some Must Push and Some Must Pull,
as we go marching up the hill,
as merrily on the way, we go,
until we reach the valley, oh."

Is that the whole song? I also found it embedded in a long song called "The handcart Song/They the Builders of the Nation," whose first verse is:

Ye Saints who dwell abroad the world,
Prepare yourselves for many more,
To leave behind your native land,
For God's sure judgments are at hand.

Is the song really from the 1850's, or was it "retrofitted" later to commemorate the pioneers? I'd love any info you can supply.


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Subject: RE: Some Must Push and Some Must Pull
From: Jon W.
Date: 30 Sep 97 - 11:06 AM

I just happen to have performed this song recently at a 150 year pioneer celebration at our (Mormon/LDS) church. I don't have an authoritative guide to the complete background but here is what I do know:

The tune is set to a Scottish dance tune called the Cumberland Reel. A colleague of mine who teaches Scottish Country Dance (to one of my daughters) supplied the name of the tune when I heard it at the class. I found the music on the Ceolas web site. Note that only the first part of the tune was used for the song. Each verse repeats the melody twice and the chorus repeats it once more.

I have a book which was published by the LDS Church Education System for the home study seminary program, which my wife got as a teenager. It contains about 15 or 20 Mormon folk songs including this one (and a record of one verse each). The book is not copyrighted and I intend to someday submit the whole thing to Mudcat/DT. Yes, I know what the road to hell is paved with.

The Handcart song, as this one is called, has six verses, appearing to be genuine 1850's words. The current version of the song sung by the children in Primary (the children's organization) was written I think in the 1950's.

I have these verses memorized, will post more after lunch:

Ye Saints who dwell on Europe's shore,
Prepare yourselves for many more
To leave behind your native lands
For sure God's judgements are at hand.
For you must cross the raging main
before the promised land you gain,
then with the faithful make a start
to cross the plains with your handcart.

Chorus:
For some must push and some must pull,
As we go marching up the hill.
For merrily on our way we go,
Until we reach the valley-O

But some will say it is too bad,
the saints upon the foot to pad,
And more than that, to pull a load
, as they go marching o'er the road.
But then we say it is the plan,
to gather up the best of men,
and women too, for none but they
Will ever travel in this way.

(Chorus)

As o'er the road the carts were pulled,
'Twould very much surprise the world
To see the old and feeble dame
Thus lend a hand to pull the same
And maidens fair will dance and sing,
Young men more happy than a king,
And children too will laugh and play,
Their strength increasing day by day.

Of the modern version, I can only remember the first verse (there might not be any more):

When pioneers went to the west,
with courage strong they faced the test
They pushed their handcarts all day long
And as they pushed they sang this song:

(chorus).

Background on handcart companies - There were ten handcart companies in all, from 1856 to 1860. Although food was always in short supply, eight of these companies came through with no more loss of life than a comparable wagon company would, and less in some instances. They were also said to be as fast or faster than any other means of crossing the plains - apparently humans can pull handcarts faster than oxen can pull wagons. The other two handcart companies, called the Martin and Willy after their captains, left late (August/September) from Iowa, and were caught in early winter storms in Wyoming, suffering much loss of life and being rescued heroically by men sent from Salt Lake (the valley referred to in the song is the Salt Lake Valley). By the 1860s, the LDS Church was financially able to send professional wagon trains to aid the converts to cross the plains and in 1869 the railroad was completed which ended the "pioneer" era as far as immigration to Utah goes.

In 1997 a 150 year anniversary reenactment of the pioneer journey was staged, where a company of wagons and a company of handcarts followed the route as closely as possible from Florence (Winter Quarters), Nebraska to Salt Lake City, Utah. They left in April and arrived in SLC July 22nd. People could come and go as they pleased, but many made the whole trip. Those who desired were allowed to march in the Pioneer Day parade on July 24th. I was at the parade with my family, and believe me, to see those folks coming up the street (they were last in the parade), both wagons and handcarts, was really something. We gave them a standing ovation which probably lasted 20 minutes or more as they passed.


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Subject: RE: Some Must Push and Some Must Pull
From: Jon W.
Date: 30 Sep 97 - 04:24 PM

Here are the remaining verses as promised:

2. The land that boasts of so much light
We know they're all as dark as night
Where poor men toil and want for bread
and rich men's dogs are better fed.
The land that boasts of liberty
You ne'er again would wish to see
When you from England make a start
To cross the plains in your handcart.

5. And long before the valley's gained,
We will be met upon the plains
With music sweet and friends so dear
And fresh supplies our hearts to cheer.
And then with music and with song
How cheerfully we'll march along
And thank the day we made a start
To cross the plains with our handcart.

6. When you get there among the rest,
Obedient be and you'll be blessed,
and in God's chambers be shut in
While judgements cleanse the earth from sin.
For we do know it will be so;
God's servant spoke it long ago.
We say it is high time to start
To cross the plains with our handcart.


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Subject: RE: Some Must Push and Some Must Pull
From: Ferrara
Date: 30 Sep 97 - 05:11 PM

Thank you. This is *wonderful.*

I saw one of those handcarts, or a reproduction, recently in a Sesquicentennial exhibit. The thought of families dragging them across the plains by muscle power, following their dreams and beliefs, still brings tears to my eyes.

I didn't have any of the verses in their original form. The words are great. I'll look up your site for the music, and the friend who took me to the pioneer exhibit also knows the tune. Thank you again.


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Subject: RE: Some Must Push and Some Must Pull
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 Sep 97 - 05:22 PM

Now, Jon, don't delay posting those lyrics TOO long. Give us one every week or two, eh? This one is a gem.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Some Must Push and Some Must Pull
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 15 Jun 02 - 11:55 PM

One correction and variants to verse 2 (2nd post by Jon) :
The lands that boast of modern light,
We know are all as dark as night
Whre poor men toil and want for bread,
Where peasant folks are blindly led.
These lands that boast of liberty
You ne'er again will wish to see
When you from Europe make a start
To cross the plains with your handcart.
(1st line made plural to agree with 2nd line, and a couple of variant lines)

L. J. Davidson, 1945, Jour. Amer. Folklore, LVIII, no. 330, pp. 273-300, ascribes authorship to William Hobbs.


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Subject: RE: Some Must Push and Some Must Pull
From: masato sakurai
Date: 16 Jun 02 - 03:02 AM

Also in B.A. Botkin, A Treasury of Western Folklore (Crown, 1975, pp. 573-574; with music & chords) [Sung by L.M. Hilton, Ogden, Utah, August 26, 1946], and in The Burl Ives Sing-Along Song Book (Watts, 1963, pp. 74-75; text only). Both versions has the line as "The lands that boast of modern light."

~Masato


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Subject: RE: Some Must Push and Some Must Pull
From: katlaughing
Date: 16 Jun 02 - 03:43 AM

The LDS church has opened a handcart museum in Wyoming, after purchasing the Sun Ranch, which is not far from Independence Rock. The Sun Ranch includes the Devil's Gate area where so many of the handcart companies stopped for water, etc.

We saw a lot of the re-enactors JonW mentions, when they went across country for the anniversary.

Here is more information about The Handcart Disaster of Wyoming; and, here is information on Handcarts and their history, in general, as well as how to make one.

kat


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Some Must Push and Some Must Pull
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jul 12 - 06:09 PM

See Dr. LeRoy Hafen's HANDCARTS TO ZION...p.37 - 65-66

John D.T. McCallister - composer - THE HANDCART SONG. On his way home from his mission to Great Britain, McCallister was called to disburse supplies and build handcarts in Iowa City...for the handcart pioneers. p. 66

Anyone with an interest in having a BROADWAY MUSICAL produced about the first Mormon Handcart Company...(with a whole lot more value to it than the Broadway Musical 'The Book of Mormon')...drop me a note.

T.M.
mtd.dtm2@verizon.net


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