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Lyr Add: The Heathen Mother (Thomas Hastings)

Charley Noble 30 Jun 01 - 07:23 PM
Charley Noble 01 Jul 01 - 09:01 AM
sophocleese 01 Jul 01 - 11:23 PM
Charley Noble 02 Jul 01 - 07:55 AM
sophocleese 02 Jul 01 - 09:17 AM
Charley Noble 02 Jul 01 - 04:13 PM
Jim Dixon 06 Jan 11 - 08:25 PM
Joe Offer 07 Jan 11 - 04:59 PM
Charley Noble 07 Jan 11 - 08:19 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: THE HEATHEN MOTHER (Thomas Hastings)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 30 Jun 01 - 07:23 PM

This 19th century "missionary" song falls into the category of being so "bad" that I used to sing it in college as a shocking comic ditty. Now much older I'm frankly outraged that the editors of this songbook were seriously printing stuff like this to be learned by little children. What a weird world! Still some social anthropologist may find this song useful as an example of 19th century WASP ethnocentricity. Pity I can't paste in the steel engraving that illustrates this song.


THE HEATHEN MOTHER
(In Songs for the Little Ones at Home by the American Tract Society in 1852)

See that heathen mother stand
Where the sacred current flows;
With her own maternal hand
Mid the waves her babe she throws.

Hark! I hear the piteous scream;
Frightful monsters seize their prey,
Or the dark and bloody stream
Bears the struggling child away.

Fainter now, and fainter still,
Breaks the cry upon the ear;
But the mother's heart is steel,
She unmoved that cry can hear.

Send, O send the Bible there,
Let its precepts reach the heart;
She may then her children spare?
Act the mother's tender part.

?Hastings' "Nursery Songs."

I sing this one to a tune varient of "East Virginia."
Songs for the Little Ones at Home


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Heathen Mother, The
From: Charley Noble
Date: 01 Jul 01 - 09:01 AM

This also works with "Will the Circle be Unbroken."


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Heathen Mother, The
From: sophocleese
Date: 01 Jul 01 - 11:23 PM

Jesus! That's awful!! I'm have outraged and half giggling its so bad. My admittedly extremely sick sense of humour thinks singing it to Will the Circle be Unbroken is very funny.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Heathen Mother, The
From: Charley Noble
Date: 02 Jul 01 - 07:55 AM

Sophocleese ? there's a whole book of these to mine but this song is one guananteed to provoke an awesome silence from your typical Unitarian coffeehouse audience. I haven't dared sing this song to anyone since my "cynical" college days. Then there "Sweet Little Alice" and "The Brook," and a few promising temperence songs which might be revived with spirit at the local pub.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Heathen Mother, The
From: sophocleese
Date: 02 Jul 01 - 09:17 AM

What 'spirit' would drive you to revive them?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Heathen Mother, The
From: Charley Noble
Date: 02 Jul 01 - 04:13 PM

Well, there's rubbing alcohol but I prefer Jack Daniels over ice. If anyone else is interested in these songs, they don't have the courage to post. Can't say I blame 'em. ;-)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Heathen Mother
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 06 Jan 11 - 08:25 PM

You can now see the engraving that Charley referred to, and the rest of the book, at Google Books.

If you want to sing the song with its original music, see The Mother's Nursery Songs by Thomas Hastings (New York: M. W. Dodd, 1853), page 70.

Altogether, Google finds 7 books from 1846 to 1881 that contain the lyrics.

It has not escaped the attention of scholars. The song has been quoted in:

Dependent States: The Child's Part in Nineteenth-Century American Culture by Karen Sánchez-Eppler (Chicago: University of Chicago press, 2005), page 215.

Heaven, Harmony, and Home: Thomas Hasting's [sic] and Joshua Leavitt's Dueling Tunebooks by Lynette M. Roth (Madison: University of Wisconsin, 1996).


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Heathen Mother
From: Joe Offer
Date: 07 Jan 11 - 04:59 PM

The Mother's Nursery Songs also contains an 1853 version of Little Moses, which proves the song is far older than the Carter Family's copyright.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Heathen Mother
From: Charley Noble
Date: 07 Jan 11 - 08:19 PM

Jim-

It never ceases to amaze me what shows up on-line and complete with graphics!

There were several other classic tear-jerker songs in SONGS FOR THE LITTLE ONES AT HOME as I recall. But you just can't beat the "Heathen Mother" for its cultural message.

Charley Noble


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