I wonder as I wander out under the sky
How Jesus the Savior did come for to die
For poor ornery people like you and like I
I wonder as I wander
Out under the sky...
When Mary birthed Jesus, 'twas in a cow's stall
With wise men and farmers and shepherds and all
But high from God's heaven a star's light did fall
And the promise of ages it then did recall.
If Jesus had wanted for any wee thing,
A star in the sky or a bird on the wing,
Or all of God's angels in heaven to sing,
He surely could have it, 'cause He was the King.
Traditional Appalachian Carol
A very pensive carol in a minor key, this Christmas song was discovered by John Jacob Niles in 1933 when he heard a young woman, Annie Morgan, singing. Niles learned what she had sung and "a magnificent idea" helped him compose the rest of the song. He published it in 1934 in his book, "Songs of the Hill-Folk".
My daughter Alison loves songs in minor keys. When she was just a little thing, not old enough to go to school, she would change songs into minor without knowing what she should call it! I remember asking her if she knew what she was doing. She sang all the time...She still does! I remember one Christmas season we were hearing "Sweet Little Jesus Boy" over the radio going to church at night in Enid, Ok...it was just an instrumental, no words, but she piped up and said, "That song makes me want to cry." I agreed with her- the music AND the words have that bittersweet, heart-gripping mood- I love this Christmas Negro Spiritual also. "Sweet little Jesus boy, we didn't know who you was." I want to tear up now just thinking about it.
Mahalia Jackson had such a powerful voice...her renditions are classics. Another song I remember her by is Go Tell It On The Mountain.
This brings up a very heartbreaking memory...when we moved down here to Oklahoma City we rented out our homeplace to a family whose father was an NCO in the military. They were the best renters we could have had...they loved our place and moved in so beautifully. I admired the mother's decorating skill. They had two sons, the youngest still in high school. They had not been there very long before this son was tragically killed in a car wreck on the way to school. He had a classic Mustang...they believe he had looked down to maybe fiddle with the stereo when the car fell off the edge of the pavement and he lost control. It was such a sad funeral- Ringwood is one of the smallest of small towns and the whole high school turned out. We found out then that this was his favorite song. I guess I will remember him every time I hear "Go Tell It On The Mountain." The little contact we had with him convinced us that he was a sweet young man with good character. God bless Mr and Mrs Elder wherever you are today...