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Origins: The Preacher and the Bear

DigiTrad:
THE PREACHER AND THE BEAR
THE PREACHER AND THE BEAR (2)


Related threads:
Lyr Req: Preacher and the Bear (answered) (4) (closed)
Lyr Req: The Preacher and the Bear (8) (closed)
Lyr: Preacher and the Bear w/Baptizing (answered) (2) (closed)
Lyr Req: The Preacher and the Bear (closed) (2) (closed)


Linda 04 Mar 97 - 03:08 PM
Les Blank 04 Mar 97 - 05:30 PM
Coralena 05 Mar 97 - 07:27 AM
Linda 13 Mar 97 - 09:27 AM
Coralena 13 Mar 97 - 12:25 PM
Saunis 23 Mar 97 - 10:58 PM
Gene Graham 24 Mar 97 - 02:08 AM
wfoster@unanov.una.edu [Bill Foster] 25 Mar 97 - 08:23 AM
29 Mar 97 - 10:32 AM
Linda 29 Mar 97 - 08:13 PM
Dale Rose 29 May 97 - 03:23 AM
30 May 97 - 02:07 PM
GUEST,franklin 30 Jan 00 - 04:18 AM
JJ 12 Oct 02 - 11:50 PM
Jim Dixon 25 Dec 03 - 05:17 PM
masato sakurai 25 Dec 03 - 07:48 PM
masato sakurai 25 Dec 03 - 08:20 PM
GUEST,FJBarrett 13 Aug 04 - 11:53 AM
GUEST,P. Neilson 29 Mar 06 - 01:11 AM
Thomas Stern 13 Sep 08 - 07:18 PM
open mike 13 Sep 08 - 11:58 PM
GUEST,Laura 09 Nov 09 - 02:57 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 09 Nov 09 - 04:01 PM
GUEST,Randy Sparks 06 May 10 - 07:26 PM
GUEST, Randy Sparks 07 May 10 - 02:31 AM
Joe Offer 07 May 10 - 02:52 AM
Artful Codger 07 May 10 - 05:15 PM
GUEST,David Meyers 02 Dec 10 - 08:32 AM
GUEST,Sue Williams 08 May 11 - 09:13 PM
Artful Codger 10 May 11 - 04:00 AM
GUEST 11 May 11 - 09:56 AM
Artful Codger 11 May 11 - 09:44 PM
GUEST,Jerry from PA 26 May 11 - 12:47 PM
GUEST,Mike 01 Jun 11 - 09:36 PM
GUEST 01 Jun 11 - 09:39 PM
GUEST,Earl Greene 05 Feb 12 - 03:26 PM
GUEST 09 Aug 14 - 07:59 PM
GUEST 10 Aug 14 - 04:15 PM
GUEST,Rod Driscoll From The Adirondacks 25 Jan 16 - 08:39 PM
GUEST,Pete from seven stars link 26 Jan 16 - 01:12 PM
GUEST,Joy 31 Mar 16 - 04:42 PM
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Subject: The Preacher & the Bear
From: Linda
Date: 04 Mar 97 - 03:08 PM

I'm trying to help my dad find the words to this song or ballad. I think Tennessee Ernie Ford did this on a record - way back - however, he just spoke the words with music in the background. So, I'm not sure if this was ever a song. Any help would be appreciated.
Thanks.

Preacher and the Bear (Levy Sheet Music Collection)
Preacher and the Bear (Digital Tradition)
Preacher and the Bear (Digital Tradition alternate version)


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Subject: RE: Preacher and the Bear
From: Les Blank
Date: 04 Mar 97 - 05:30 PM

I don't have the lyrics handy and I haven't yet checked DT but the song was done by Phil Harris (of the old Jack Benny gang.) I'll keep looking.


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Subject: RE:
From: Coralena
Date: 05 Mar 97 - 07:27 AM

I don't know if this is what you are looking for or not, my Daddy would sing it and he learned it from his Daddy.

Well, the preacher he went a hunting
Was on one Sunday morn
Was against his religion
but he took his gun along
He shot himself some mighty fine quail and one little
measly hare and on his way returning home he met a great
big grizzly bear.
Well, the bear marched out in the middle of the road and
the preacher climbed out on the limb
He cast his eyes to the Lord in the sky and he once more
said to him
Oh Lord, you delivered Daniel from the lion's den
also brother Jonah from the belly of the whale and then
the Hebrew Children from the fiery furnace now the Good
Book due declare
Now Lord if you can't help me for goodness sake don't you
help that bear.

My Granddaddy would put his own twist to it that for the
most part I'd rather leave out but at the end he sang
"Now Lord if you can't help me for goodness sake put a
muzzle on that there bear".


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE PREACHER AND THE BEAR (Arzonia)
From: Linda
Date: 13 Mar 97 - 09:27 AM

THE PREACHER AND THE BEAR
(Arzonia)

A preacher went out a hunting
twas on one Sunday morn,
Of course it was against his religion
but he took his gun along.
He shot himself some very fine quail
and one big measly hare,
And on his way returning home
he met a great big grizzly bear,
The bear marched out in the middle of the road
and he waltzed up to him you see,
Then he got so excited,
that he climbed a persimmon tree,
The bear sat down upon the ground
while he climbed way out on a limb,
He cast his eyes to the God in the skies
and these words he said to him:

Chorus:
Oh Lord, didn't you deliver Daniel from the Lion's den?
Also deliver Jonah from the belly of the whale and then,
Three Hebrew children from the fiery furnace
so the good books do declare,
Now Lord, if you can't help me
for goodness sake don't you help that bear.

This preacher stayed up in that tree
I think it was all night,
He says, "Oh Lord, if you don't help that bear
then you'll see one awful fight,
Just about then the limb let go,
the preacher came tumbling down,
You should have seen him get his razor out
before he struck the ground,
He hit the ground cutting right and left,
'tis true he put up a very game fight,
The bear then started hugging,
he squeezed him a little too tight,
The preacher then lost his razor
but the bear held on with a vim,
He cast his eyes to the God in the skies
and once more he said to him:

Repeat Chorus

by Joe Arizona

Coralena, Thanks for your reply. Since then, my local
library helped me find the original verse and music.
They want me to come back and sing it for them!! I don't
think so, but thought maybe you would like the whole
version.


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Subject: RE:
From: Coralena
Date: 13 Mar 97 - 12:25 PM

Thank you! I can't wait to share this with my family. My Daddy loved to sing and teach us songs and I miss those times and him and I know my sisters and brothers will appreciate this. Thank you! You should go and sing, how else will this music be passed on. I hope you will go and sing for them! :)


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Subject: RE:
From: Saunis
Date: 23 Mar 97 - 10:58 PM

Theres another version of this song that I've been trying to find for a long time. The preacher climbs into the tree, and the bear follows. The preacher climbs still higher, till he couln't climb no more. Right about then the limb gave way, and they both come a tumbling down. They fall into a river. They wrestle in the water. The preacher eventually gets out of the water and says, Oh Lord you delivered Danieal from the lions den. Delivered Jonah from the belly of the whale and then, Oh Lord it may not seem like much from where you sit up there. But the hardest thing that I've ever done was to baptize that bear. If anybody knows the whole song in this versioon I'd sure like it.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE PREACHER AND THE BEAR (from P Harris)
From: Gene Graham
Date: 24 Mar 97 - 02:08 AM

It looks like everybody and their brother recorded this little ditty.

The following is from a 1968 recording by Phil Harris.

THE PREACHER AND THE BEAR - As recorded by Phil Harris - Writer: Joe Arizona

[Bb] Now a preacher went out walkin'
Was [Eb] on one Sunday [Bb] morn'
It was against his religion
But he [C] took his gun a-[F] long
He [Bb] shot himself some mighty fine quail
And [Eb] one little "measly" [Bb] hare
But [Eb] on his way [Bb] returnin' home
He met a [F] great big grizzly [Bb] bear;

NARRATION: Well, the bear got down in the middle of the road
On all fours like a great big toad
And looked that preacher right square in the eye
And the preacher looked at him and said: "Bye-bye."
Started down the road and took out to run
The bear right after that preacher did come
Run and they run for about a mile
Then they both sat down and rested awhile
The preacher got up - started again
The bear he started out with more vim
They ran and they ran till he spotted a tree
Said: "Up on the limb is the place for me."
The bear got close - made a grab for him
Preacher leaps up and he made the limb
Pulled himself up and turns about
Cast his eyes to the skies and he did shout;

Refrain: "[Bb] Oh, Lawd, you delivered [Eb] Daniel from the lion's [Bb] den
Also delivered Jonah from the [C] belly of the whale and [F] then
The [Bb] Hebrew children from the fiery furnace
So the [Eb] good book do [Bb] declare
Yes! [Eb] Lord, if you can't [Bb] help me,
For goodness [F] sake don't help that [Bb] bear."

NARRATION: Just about then the limb let go
And the preacher came tumblin' down
Reached in his pocket, pulled his razor out
Just before he hit the ground
He hit the ground with an awful bang
It was a terrible sight
The preacher and the bear, with a razor in his hair
Just a-cuttin' left and right
Well, they rolled around on the ground
The preacher was up and then he was down
The bear let out an awful moan
It looked like the preacher was holdin' his own
"Lord, if I get out of here alive
That Good Book I will abide
I'll never sin on Sabbath day
And Sunday come, I'll pray and pray."
To the heavens, he did glance
Said; "Lord, just gimme one more chance."
Then his suspenders gave away
And he knocked that bear ten feet away
Then the preacher got up and made a bound
To the tree where he'd be safe and sound
Pulled himself up and turned about
Cast his eyes to the skies and he did shout:

Refrain:

Note. http://www.bmi.com lists several authors of similar renditions.


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Subject: RE:Preacher and Bear
From: wfoster@unanov.una.edu [Bill Foster]
Date: 25 Mar 97 - 08:23 AM

Sannis:

Use the two verses given above by Linda. The third verse goes:

Well, they fought plumb down to the river--
It was terrible fight;
That bear was bitin', scratchin', and growlin',
But the preacher was doin' all right.
He drug that beast into the water--three times in and out;
Then the bear got up and limped away, and the preacher began to shout:

FINAL CHORUS

Lord, you delivered Daniel from the lions' den
You also delivered Jonah from the belly of the whale--AMEN!
I know it may not look like much from where You sit up there,
But the hardest work I ever done was baptizin' that bear!


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Subject: RE:
From:
Date: 29 Mar 97 - 10:32 AM

Bill, thanks for that last verse. It's the one I've been looking for. The first 2 verses are a little differnt but close. Saunis


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Subject: RE: Preacher & the Bear
From: Linda
Date: 29 Mar 97 - 08:13 PM

Bill & Gene, Thanks for the additional verses - they sound more like the ones my dad and grandfather recited. I think everyone put their own spin on this, but it's fun hearing all of versions. Thanks again. Linda


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Subject: RE:
From: Dale Rose
Date: 29 May 97 - 03:23 AM

After a little research on this song, I found that it was written by George Fairman [1881-1962] in 1904. It seems he was a bit short of funds, so he sold the rights to the publisher, Arthur Longbrake, who then published it under the pseudonym of Joe Arzonia. [correct spelling] This information was taken from the writings of Dr. Bill McNeil at the Ozark Folk Center, Mountain View, Arkansas.


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Subject: RE:
From:
Date: 30 May 97 - 02:07 PM

HI! I just wanted to say,that there´s a funny recording of this song by a christian hard rock band called guardian. See if you can find it!I like it! Bye, Daniel


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Subject: RE: the preacher and the bear
From: GUEST,franklin
Date: 30 Jan 00 - 04:18 AM

anyone know the chords to the big boppers version of the preacher and the bear?


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Subject: RE: Preacher and the bear
From: JJ
Date: 12 Oct 02 - 11:50 PM

Big hit for Phil Harris in 1947. (Harris later provided the voice of Baloo the bear in Disney's JUNGLE BOOK, singing a score by Terry Gilkeyson.)

"... published in 1904. Normally credited to Joe Arzonia, the song was actually written by George Fairman (1881-1962) of Front Royal, Virginia. In 1955 Fairman wrote to Jim Walsh that in 1902 or 1903, shortly after he composed it, he sold for $250 all rights to the song to Arzonia, owner of a cafe in which Fairman played piano, adding that songwriter Arthur Longbrake was a frequent patron of that cafe. Longbrake, who established the Eclipse Music Company, shares credit with Arzonia on sheet music, which sold well when published by the Joe Morris Music Company."

And it evidently did contain the word "coon" at that time.


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Subject: ADD: The Preacher and the Bear (Joe Arzonia, 1904)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 25 Dec 03 - 05:17 PM

The lyrics posted by Linda above are mostly accurate, but they have been bowdlerized to eliminate any "coon" references. In the interest of historical accuracy, here is my transcription from the sheet music images at The University of Colorado Digital Sheet Music Collection. I don't mean to advocate singing the "coon" version.

I think Dale Rose's explanation of the origin of the song is accurate. Note that the correct spelling is Arzonia, not Arizona.

THE PREACHER AND THE BEAR
(Joe Arzonia, 1904)

A preacher went out a-hunting. 'Twas on one Sunday morn.
Of course, it was against his religion, but he took his gun along.
He shot himself some very fine quail and one big measly hare,
And on his way returning home, he met a great big grizzly bear.
The bear marched out in the middle of the road and he waltzed to the coon, you see.
The coon got so excited that he climbed a persimmon tree.
The bear sat down upon the ground and the coon climbed out on a limb.
He cast his eyes to the God in the skies and these words he said to him:

CHORUS:
Oh Lord, didn't you deliver Daniel from the lion's den?
Also deliver Jonah from the belly of the whale and then,
Three Hebrew children from the fiery furnace, so the good books do declare.
Now, Lord, if you can't help me, for goodness sake don't you help that bear.

This coon stayed up in that tree. I think it was all night.
He says, "Oh Lord, if you don't help that bear, then you'll see one awful fight."
Just about then, the limb let go and the coon came tumbling down,
You should have seen him get his razor out before he struck the ground.
He hit the ground cutting right and left, 'tis true. He put up a very game fight.
Just then, the bear hugged this coon. He squeezed him a little too tight.
The coon he then lost his razor, but the bear held on with a vim.
He cast his eyes to the God in the skies and once more he said to him:
CHORUS


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Subject: RE: The Preacher and the Bear
From: masato sakurai
Date: 25 Dec 03 - 07:48 PM

Sheet music is also at The Charles H. Templeton Ragtime Sheet Music Collection (go on to MINSTREL MUSIC).


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Subject: RE: The Preacher and the Bear
From: masato sakurai
Date: 25 Dec 03 - 08:20 PM

"The Preacher and the Bear" [audio] performed by Arthur Collins [rec. Orange, N.J. : Edison, 1919], in addition to sheet music, is at American Memory.


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Subject: RE: The Preacher and the Bear
From: GUEST,FJBarrett
Date: 13 Aug 04 - 11:53 AM

Randy Sparks of the New Christy Minstrels also needs to be credited on this song. He reworked this song in 1960, removing the offensive racial references and adding the third verse and final chorus.   Baptizin' that bear was his invention.

He recorded the song with the New Christy Minstrels in 1962 on the album "The New Christy Minstrels, In Person at The Troubadour".

For Randy's comments and history of the song check out the links below.

http://www.thenewchristyminstrels.com/randy-corner/preacher-and-the-bear.htm

http://www.thenewchristyminstrels.com/randy-corner/copy-right-thoughts.htm


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Preacher and the Bear
From: GUEST,P. Neilson
Date: 29 Mar 06 - 01:11 AM

In 1986 L. Douglas Henderson of Artcraft Music Rolls in
Wiscasset, Maine created a player-piano roll of this tune.
Read his description at
http://wiscasset.net/artcraft/rolls5.htm
to find out how he selected the words and music for his
particular arrangement.

I own the roll and perform and sing it on appropriate
occasions. Musically it is an excellent arrangement, and
showcases the style of music and comedy popular in 1904.

The original words of the song do put it into the category
of "coon song". The words of such songs and even the name
of this genre are unacceptable today, but they are part of
history and as such deserve to be preserved. Performances
should be bracketed by careful historical explanations.

The razor in the lyrics is one of three common tokens of the
comic stereotype of blacks a hundred years ago. The other
two were a watermelon, usually stolen, and a top hat. The
sheet music cover shows the Preacher wearing a top hat. Why
the hat? Presumably during slave times it was a problem for
free black men in the South to avoid slave catchers, men who
would pick up unowned blacks as runaway slaves. Ownership of
a good hat presumably announced to all that the wearer was
a free gentleman, and not a slave.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE PREACHER AND THE BEAR
From: Thomas Stern
Date: 13 Sep 08 - 07:18 PM

from LYRICSPLAYGROUND:

THE PREACHER AND THE BEAR
(Traditional / Joe Arzonia)

Arthur Collins - 1905
Claude Hopkins - 1935
Golden Gate Quartet - 1937
Phil Harris - 1947
The Jubalaires - 1947
The Big Bopper - 1958
New Christy Minstrels - 1962
Jerry Reed - 1971
Jim Kweskin - 1979
David Holt - 1986
Robert Decormier Singers - 1996
Michael Redman - 1998

Also recorded by: Andy Griffith; Sons Of The Pioneers;
Lesley Schatz; Mac Wiseman; Albert Whelan; Hylo Brown;
David Dusing Singers; Rufus Thomas.


The preacher went out a huntin', it was on one Sunday morn'
It was against his religion, but he took a shotgun along
He got himself a mess o' mighty fine quail and one old scraggly hare
And on the way home he crossed the path of a great big grizzly bear
Well the bear got down lookin' ready to charge
The preacher never seen nothin' quite that large
They looked each other right smack in the eye
Didn't take that preacher long to say bye

The preacher, he run till he spotted a tree
He said, "Up in that tree's where I oughta be"
By the time that bear made a grab for him
The preacher was a sittin' on top a that limb
Scared to death, he turned about
He looked to the sky and began to shout

"Hey lord, you delivered Daniel from the bottom of the lion's den
You delivered Jonah from the belly of the whale and then
The Hebrew children from the fiery furnace
So the good books do declare
Hey lord, if you can't help me,
For goodness sake don't help that bear"

Yea, look out preacher!

Well, about that time the limb broke off
And the preacher came tumblin' down
Had a straight razor out of his pocket
By the time he lit on the ground
He landed on his feet right in front a that bear
And Lord, what an awful fight
The preacher and the bear and the razor and the hair
Flyin' from left to right

Well first they was up and then they was down
The preacher and the bear runnin' round an' round
The bear he roared, and the the preacher he groaned
He was havin' a tough time holdin' his own!
He said, "Lord if I get out a here alive
To the good book I'll abide
No more huntin' on the Sabbath day
Come Sunday I'm headin' to the church to pray"

Up to the heavens the preacher glanced
He said, "Lord won't you give me just one more chance"
So the preacher got away, he looked around
Seen a tree where he'd be safe and sound
Jumped on a limb, turned about
Looked to the sky and began to shout

"Hey lord, you delivered Daniel from the bottom of the lion's den
You delivered Jonah from the belly of the whale and then
The Hebrew children from the fiery furnace
So the good books do declare
Hey lord, if you can't help me,
For goodness sake don't help that bear"


(Transcribed from the Jerry Reed
recording by Mel Priddle - August 2005))


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Subject: RE: Preacher and the Bear (answered)
From: open mike
Date: 13 Sep 08 - 11:58 PM

this reminds me of God's Own Drunk by Lord Buckley and by Jimmy Buffett


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Preacher and the Bear
From: GUEST,Laura
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 02:57 PM

Hey, I know the one Saunis is looking for, and it must be the exact one, because I know the part about baptizing the bear and it's in that metre, with the words Linda supplied being close, but not exact. Also, my version never had any coon references, and it's the one my Daddy from east TN used to sing to us. Maybe it's regional. This is the closest I can remember (and no explanation as to why the preacher didn't just shoot the bear):

The Preacher and the Bear

Well a preacher he went out a walkin'
it was on a sunday morn
And it was against his religion
but he took his gun along
he shot himself some mighty fine quail
and one little measly hare
but on his way returning home
he met a great big grizzly bear

Well the bear came out to the middle of the road
just as mean as he could be
and the preacher he commenced to shakin'
and he climbed a persimmon tree
That bear stood up and he rolled his eyes and he shook his ugly head
And the preacher he looked up to the skies
and these are the words he said:

Chorus:
Oh, Lord, you delivered Daniel from the lion's den
You delivered Jonah from the belly of the whale and then
The Hebrew children from the fiery furnace so the good book do declare
Oh Lord Oh Lord if you can't help me, for goodness sake don't you help that bear.
Oh Lord, Oh Lord if you can't help me for goodness sake don't you help that bear.

Now the bear started coming after, and it made the preacher sore
So the preacher he kept on climbin', til he couldn't climb no more
Just about then that limb gave way and they both came a-tumblin' down
And when that preacher began to pray, you could hear him for miles around!
(Chorus)

Now the two commenced to 'rasslin' and it was a terrible fight
The bear he was really layin' it on, but the preacher he was doin' all right
He drug that beast right down to the water; it was three times in and out
Then the bear got up and he limped away, and the preacher he began to shout:

Oh Lord, you delivered Daniel from the lion's den
You delivered Jonah from the belly of the whale and then
Oh Lord, it may not seem like much from where you sit up there
But the hardest job I ever had was baptizin' that bear!
But the hardest job I ever had was baptizin' that bear!


    Note from Joe Offer: as explained below, the "baptizin'" version of "Preacher and the Bear" should be credited to Randy Sparks, 1960. The original version was published in 1905 and credited to the pseudonomous "Joe Arzonia" but actually written by George Fairman.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Preacher and the Bear
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 04:01 PM

I still have, somewhere, the old LP of Phil Harris doing this song. The album also contains "The Thing," which received a lot of air play in the early 1950's.

I heard Randy Sparks do the song when he was still doing a solo act. He was appearing at the old Fresno (CA) Hacienda Hotel showroom, probably around 1959-60 and this song was on the playlist. Also on that list was a song (by Randy, I believe) called "Rosie's House of Sin." With its references to green stamps, etc., it's more than a bit dated now.

One of my Renaissance coffee house fellows "gleaned" that latter song and localized it with some familiar landmarks, making it part of his regular repertoire, usually to a rousing response. Randy got wind of it somehow and showed up unannounced at our place one evening. He sought out our hero, Jon, after hearing him do the song and had a friendly chat about crediting authorship, royalties, etc., etc.

I mentioned that to Randy in an e-mail a year or so ago and he recalled it sure enough. He always was a little "tender" about those compositions of his which never got proper credit or were modified without acknowledgement.


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Subject: RE: The Preacher and the Bear
From: GUEST,Randy Sparks
Date: 06 May 10 - 07:26 PM

I'm grateful to FJ Barrett and TJ in San Diego for their comments herein, although I feel much like a person eavesdropping on my neighbors. I make it a habit not to get involved is such discussion as this. I found this site only because I'm in the process of rerecording my song The Story Of The Preacher And The Bear for our new CD: The New Christy Minstrels 'Recycled' Vol. II, and I was checking the accuracy of the misplaced writing credit. I have been telling folks for years that my co-writer was Joe Arzonia, and Jan Hansen has brought to my attention the following data:

Excerpt from POPULAR AMERICAN RECORDING PIONEERS: 1895-1925, by Tim Gracyk:
 
"Arthur Collins recorded 'The Preacher and the Bear' soon after it was published in 1904.
Normally credited to Joe Arzonia, the song was actually written by George Fairman
(1881-1962) of Front Royal, Virginia. In 1955 Fairman wrote to Jim Walsh that in
1902 or 1903, shortly after he composed it, he sold for $250 all rights to the song
to Arzonia, owner of a cafe in which Fairman played piano, adding that songwriter
Arthur Longbrake was a frequent patron of that cafe. Longbrake, who established the
Eclipse Music Company, shares credit with Arzonia on sheet music, which sold well
when published by the Joe Morris Music Company...." 

I am ever so grateful for the internet. It gives each of us, all of us, a chance to get it right. To Laura, whose daddy from East Tennessee sang about baptizing the bear, I can PROMISE you that he did not sing about baptizing the bear prior to 1960 or before he heard our NCM recording (or a version from someone else who had). That's mine, and it's original. I adore the folk process, and I firmly believe that PD music ought to be allowed to grow with each performance thereof, but I won't touch an old song unless I can improve it. I have no desire to put my name on such a song simply to grab the songwriter's gold or glory.   Giving The Preacher & The Bear a punchline is one of my proudest moments, although proper credit was the furthest issue from my mind when I reworked this gem. I rewrote the lyrics simply to better entertain my audiences. I felt the song needed a punchline.

Cheers! Randy Sparks, Founder, The New Christy Misntrels
P.S. Please visit our website: thenewchristyminstrels.com


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Subject: RE: The Preacher and the Bear
From: GUEST, Randy Sparks
Date: 07 May 10 - 02:31 AM

One more bit of clarification for Guest Laura…
The kind of firearm used in hunting rabbits and quail would surely have been totally inappropriate for attempting to exterminate a bear, a grizzly in particular. That's why the Preacher thoughtfully declined to make use of his weapon. A slightly wounded bear is a menace to one and all.

While we're at it, we may as well clear the air regarding one major flaw in the original song. It is accepted in most outdoor circles that black bears climb trees, but grizzlies don't.   Anybody in Montana or Wyoming would have known this fact of life in the animal kingdom, but elsewhere it's an obscure bit of trivia. I left it in simply because it's quaint, and it's something to talk about.

Cheers! RS


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Preacher and the Bear
From: Joe Offer
Date: 07 May 10 - 02:52 AM

Thanks, Randy-
We try to end up with accurate information, but we get a lot of inaccurate stuff on the way. You'll see I annotated Laura's posting of lyrics above, so attribution is correct.
-Joe Offer, Forum Moderator-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Preacher and the Bear
From: Artful Codger
Date: 07 May 10 - 05:15 PM

Thanks for the info, Randy. I've been trying to rework this song (along the lines of Harris's patter and Collins' dialog with the bear), but I haven't hit on a satisfying alternative for your perfect punchline. I don't want to step on your copyright, or end up with copyright entanglements just for that one bit, but it's so fitting, pithy and RIGHT, the song now doesn't sound complete without it. Kudos and damn you! ;-}


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Preacher and the Bear
From: GUEST,David Meyers
Date: 02 Dec 10 - 08:32 AM

I have been researching this song (and continue to do so). Joe Arzonia was the Americanized version of the name Joseph Ursone. Not only did he teach music in Columbus, but he owned a saloon in which he performed on the harp. Arthur Longbrake was a student at Ohio State and a musician as well who wrote a number of songs, both on his own and in conjunction with others. George Fairman, who had performed with minstrel shows, came to Columbus from Chicago where he had gotten into some trouble with the law.

Now, only Arzonia's name appears on the original sheet music, but when it was reprinted Longbrake's was added (and the lyrics do seem to be representative of his work). Fairman waited until both men were dead before he claimed he wrote the song. Of course, it is possible he sold it to them. However, it should be noted that Arzonia actually published one of Fairman's songs for him through his Capitol Music publishing company. And Longbrake and Fairman also wrote songs together. So if Fairman was credited on these, why wouldn't he have been credited on "The Preacher and the Bear"?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Preacher and the Bear
From: GUEST,Sue Williams
Date: 08 May 11 - 09:13 PM

For some reason this old song came to me this evening, so I googled it and found all this information. My grandfather taught my mother who taught me. I presume his father, who was quite an accomplished amateur singer and piano man, taught him. My mom was born in 1928, so that would have been comtemporary music when my grandfather was a kid.

I never got as far as the baptism lyrics, but I never heard it as anything other than "coon preacher"

That would have been around Windsor Canada. Music travels.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Preacher and the Bear
From: Artful Codger
Date: 10 May 11 - 04:00 AM

The baptism lyrics were written by Randy Sparks, long after your grandfather would have learnt the song. See Randy's post above.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Preacher and the Bear
From: GUEST
Date: 11 May 11 - 09:56 AM

I'm really glad to have run across this website. My father used to sing this to my siblings and I when we were small, but I could never remember any lyrics beyond the first verse. I want to pass the tradition along to my own children. I can see now that my father put his own twist on this song to make it more fun for us kids. There was a little bit in the middle where the preacher spoke to the bear three times & each time the bear would reply with a growl, which was of course the part where us kids would join in. It certainly is interesting to find out more about the authors and composers of this song to know where its true roots lie. But I still like the version my daddy sang best, simply for sentimental reasons. :)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Preacher and the Bear
From: Artful Codger
Date: 11 May 11 - 09:44 PM

The conversation/growling part was probably taken from Arthur Collins' version of the song (1910). This was the first recording made of the song.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Preacher and the Bear
From: GUEST,Jerry from PA
Date: 26 May 11 - 12:47 PM

What a riot. I have been singing this song, acapella with the NCM key changes, off and on for years. Just today someone at my employer suggested a talent show for . . . who knows why. There were lots of offers for spectators and we'll see about participants. I got this wild idea to dig out the Preacher and the Bear, but couldn't quite remember all the word. When I turned to the net, here is were I landed. To hear from Randy Sparks himself is just to much. I love it.   Maybe I'll surprise them. Thanks


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Preacher and the Bear
From: GUEST,Mike
Date: 01 Jun 11 - 09:36 PM

There are many versions of this song. I first heard this song a few years ago when my Grandfather gave me a tape of Mike Hammond and Mike Carr aka: The Moron Brothers. Here is the version I do:

  C
Well, the preacher went out walkin
       F                C
it was early one sunday morn

of course its against his religion
         D          G
but he took his gun along
    C
he shot himself some mighty fine quail
      F             C
and one ole measley hare

but on his way returnin home
          G                C
he met a great big grizzly bear


well the bear sat down in the middle of the road
       F               C
he was mean as he could be

the preacher commenced to climbin
D                     G
right up the simmons tree
    C
the bear looked up and rolled his eyes
F             C
shook his ugly head

the precher looked up towards the sky
    G                      C
and these are the words he said
                                     F    C
Lord, you delivered Daniel from the lions den

and you delivered Jonah
          D                     G
from the belly of the wale and then
C
freed the Hebrew children from the fiery furnace
               F       C
like the good book do declare

Lordy Lordy if you cant help me
G                     C
please dont help that bear

Well, the bear commenced to climbin that tree
         F                C
and it made the preacher sore

the preacher kept climbin higher
          D                G
till he could not climb no more
C
bout that time the limbs gave way
          F                C
and they both came tumblin down

when that ole preacher began to pray
          G                C
you could hear from miles around

(chorus)

C
They fought all the way to the river
F                      C
Lord it was a terrible fight

that bear was really layin it on
          D                G
but the preacher was doin alright
    C
he dragged that beast down into the water
F                C
three times in and out

when the bear got up and limped away
          G                   C
you could hear that preacher shout
                                              F      C
he said Lord, you delivered Daniel from the lions den
                               D                G
and you delivered Jonah from belly of the wale, Amen
   C                                             F       C
It may not seem like much to you from where you sit up there
                                       G          C
but the hardest thin I ever did was Baptizin that bear
                                        G             C
yeah, the hardest thing I ever did was baptizin that bear.

Hope this helps someone, have fun playing.


Mike


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Preacher and the Bear
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Jun 11 - 09:39 PM

Well, it didnt post right. It Moved the second chord of each sentence in to far. Hopefully you can figure out the jist of it.
    <pre>preformat</pre>
    tags added - did that help?
    -Joe Offer, Moderator-


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Preacher and the Bear
From: GUEST,Earl Greene
Date: 05 Feb 12 - 03:26 PM

When I was a young teen-ager (11-13yrs. old), Arthur Longbrake, who wrote the lyrics to this song under the pen-name of Joe Arzonia, owned and operated a shoe store in my home town of Mechanicsburg, Ohio.
I was learning to play guitar, and also sang quite a bit, and I spent almost every summer afternoon with Art in the back room of his shoe store, where he would play the mandolin, and I the guitar, and we would sing many of the old songs which he had written.
He had been a vaudeville performer on the Gus Sun circuit in his younger days, and use to do a great song called "Tell Me Cutie, Who Tied Your Tie".
He was like a second father to me at that time, and when My father was killed in an automobile accident in 1944, he was my greatest male support.
It's great to see him get some recognition on the internet !


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Preacher and the Bear
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Aug 14 - 07:59 PM

The song the Preacher and the Bear was originally written and sung by my grand uncle George Wayne Fairman. According to a biographer of Arthur Collins, although the song is often credited to Joe
Arzonia, he seems to have purchased the rights from the actual composer, George Fairman, a piano player who worked in the cafe Arzonia owned.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Preacher and the Bear
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Aug 14 - 04:15 PM

We should in any case credit the origin of the tale to Apion, in writing about Androcles in the middle of the first century. The tale is therefore long out of copyright, which I guess is why it can be spoken if not sung.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Preacher and the Bear
From: GUEST,Rod Driscoll From The Adirondacks
Date: 25 Jan 16 - 08:39 PM

There are many versions of this song. They all emanate from the old Adirondack story "Allen's Bear Fight In Keene" from 1840. Until this evening I always called it "Campbell's Bear Fight In Keene". One of my band mates corrected my recollection with the information on "Allen's Bearfight".

With the Too Tall String Band (tootallstringband.com) I've recorded the ragtime version, on our CD "While We Are Together". Jim Kweskin did this version on his solo album. I've also heard Bill Smith, the Adirondack storyteller do this version as well.

Apparently the bear fight happened on the Cascade Road going up from Keene to Cascade Lakes, near where the Bark Eater Lodge sign is located today. It's a cute story, and there are many takes on who won the bear fight, but it is a catchy tune. I've been singing this song for 35 years and I never get tired of it.

The words I know are:

The preacher went out a huntin'
It was on one Sunday morn'
Knew it was against his religion,
but he brought his gun along
Bagged him a couple of very fine quail
And one little measly hare,
But on his way returning home
He met a great big grizz-illy bear.

Well the bear walked out in the middle of the road
Walked straight at the preacher you see.
Preacher got so excited
Climbed up a great big tree.

Bear crawled around and around that tree
The preacher climbed out on a limb.
Cast his eyes to the heavenly skies
And these the words he said to him.

Oh Lord! Didn't you deliver Daniel
From the lion's den.
Also Jonah, from the belly of the whale and then
The Hebrew children from the fiery furnace
The Good Book do declare.

Oh Lord, Oh Lord if you can't help me
For goodness sake don't you help that bear.

Well the preacher sat out upon that limb
and he had himself a dreadful night.
He said oh Lord if you don't help me
there's gonna be an awful fight.

Right about then the limb it broke
and the preacher came tumbling down.
You oughta seen the way he tried to fly
Before he hit the ground.

Well the preacher ran, the bear he ran
as fast as they could go.
The preacher got home and ran inside
and slammed his big front door.
The bear crawled around and around that house
just a growlin at the wind.

Preacher crawled in bed and covered up his head
and these the words he said again,


Oh Lord! Didn't you deliver Daniel
From the lion's den.
Also Jonah, from the belly of the whale and then
The Hebrew children from the fiery furnace
The Good Book do declare.

Oh Lord, Oh Lord if you can't help me
For goodness sake don't you help that bear.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Preacher and the Bear
From: GUEST,Pete from seven stars link
Date: 26 Jan 16 - 01:12 PM

Winnie Thompson aka Poetry bird , used to ,(perhaps still does) read a poem by a British comedian about a bear encountering a preacher , and being in grave danger prayed that the bear might become Christian whereupon it folded its hands and vocalised.......for what we are about to receive..............    Heard it a few times from her, and always enjoyed it.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Preacher and the Bear
From: GUEST,Joy
Date: 31 Mar 16 - 04:42 PM

I'm hoping one of you researchers of Joe Arzonia/Joseph Ursone can perhaps help me solve a family mystery. What happened to him? Last information found was about 1924, still in Columbus, Ohio. After that nothing. 1920 census shows him listed as Joe Ursone and married to a Daisy D. Ursone. Anyone out there that can help me?
Any help appreciated.


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