Oh a-blogging we will go
In sun and rain and snow
We'll hammer down the blogposts
Then watch our weblogs grow.
In olden days, many jobs had associated work songs. Sailors on ships had accompanying ditties that assisted with the hauling in of ropes or the raising of sails:-
Pull for the shore sailor, pull for the shore.
Heed not the rolling waves, but bend to the oar,
Safe in the lifeboat sailor, cling to self no more,
Leave the poor stranded wreck and pull for the shore.There were songs that agricultural workers sang as they laboured in the fields:-
Twas early one morning at the break of the day
The cocks were all crowing and the farmer did say,
'Come rise my good fellows, come rise with good-will.
Your horses want something their bellies to fill'There were also songs that coal miners sang as they worked down the pit or made their way there:
Me Father always used to say
Pit work's more than hewing
You've got to coax the coal along
And not be riving and chewing
Frequently, the work songs echoed the rhythms of the work involved and this was never more true than in the songs that emerged from the enslavement years in America. One of the more famous songs was the spiritual anthem "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" written in fact by a freedman of the Choktaw nation.
Now back in the nineteen eighties and into the nineties, the England rugby league team had a brilliant wingman called Martin Offiah. He is of African heritage and his surname is pronounced "of fire". At a rugby union sevens match in 1987, a witty supporter innocently linked Martin Offiah with the film "Chariots of Fire" (1981) which focuses on competitive running. The supporter began singing and a couple of friends joined in.
Fast forward twenty years and that song - "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" - became the unofficial anthem of England rugby union supporters. To hear it sung lustily from the stands by thousands of voices is a moving experience.
And now - almost incredibly to me - there are politically correct voices who wish to blot out this rugby anthem because of its apparent "links" with slavery. Eh? The song is never sung mockingly or with conscious disrespect or any racist notions. It is just a damned good tune and to veto it would seem to me to be an ignorant and ill-considered thing to do. I applaud the pulling down of statues that honour slave traders but scorn those who would seek to discourage rugby supporters from singing "Swing Low Sweet Chariot".
When interviewed recently, Martin Offiah himself said, "I wouldn’t support the banning of such a song" and admitted that he was proud to be associated with it.
Swing low, sweet chariot
Coming for to carry me home
Swing low, sweet chariot
Coming for to carry me home
It seems that every aspect of life is becoming such a minefield.ReplyDelete
I would like to see The Isle of Man's name changed to The Gender Neutral Isle as its current name is offensive to women.Delete
LOL -- that's a good one!Delete
I like "Jerusalem". Morecambe isn't bad either.ReplyDelete
He was nothing without Ernie Wise.Delete
I'm thinking about re-naming Rick in memory of a certain RAF dog.ReplyDelete
Let us erase memory as in "Animal Farm"Delete
Seems to me that Mr. Offiah should have the final say here.ReplyDelete
I agree but now he is being swayed by the holy political correct lobby.Delete
My son's school used to sing "Swing low, sweet chari-oh".ReplyDelete
My son's school used to sing "The Birdy Song".Delete
That's interesting. What are the lyrics?Delete
Da da dadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadaDelete
I hadn't heard of this controversy. I must admit to my American ears, "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" seems an odd song to sing at a rugby match. I guess if it bothers people, there's a discussion to be had, but I'd be curious WHY they feel that way. I'll have to read up on it!ReplyDelete
The logic - if there is any - seems very convoluted to me. I wonder when we ARE allowed to sing this spiritual song?Delete
I think everything is controversial now. I agree with much of it but it can be overdone too. Whatever the decision on using the song, I do think it is a beautiful song and it has always reminded me of the plight of slavery.ReplyDelete
I remain confused about why some want to stop rugby fans from singing it. The logic defeats me.Delete
Swing Low was banned in Nazi Germany and revived in the great Civil Rights movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King. It was sung by black artists as well as by Joan Baez. This spiritual classic has been named the official Gospel Song in the State of Oklahoma.ReplyDelete
It's not Nazis seeking to ban it this time.Delete
No, but do they not see the bitter irony? That a movement evil in all its ideas (i.e. the Third Reich) hated and feared this great spiritual?Delete
Martin Luther King and James Baldwin were all too aware of the abomination of slavery, but they knew that the great-grandchildren of slaves sang Swing Low.
When are white people even allowed to sing it? If we sing it are we politically incorrect?Delete
As long as it doesn't cause division why can't white people sing Swing Low, in solidarity with black people? I want to see and hear those militants who are pushing political correctness so fanatically. What is their agenda?Delete
Secular fundamentalists want all public prayers banned. Why should their views prevail?
In his classic book *The Football Man* (1968) Arthur Hopcraft described the singing of Abide With Me at Wembley before Cup Final.
I loved that hymn during my long years as an agnostic, and love it more now.
There's a recording on YouTube from Yorkshire's beautiful but treacherous coast.
Abide With Me - God's Country.Delete
Abide With Me - Audrey Assad.
I am an ardent atheist but I have always loved that song before FA Cup finals and indeed at funerals too. Because of all this rampant political correctness I think I will insist that it is sung at my funeral and indeed "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" as well...after "The Birdie Song".Delete
Be ever ardent! C.S. Lewis said he went into WWI as an atheist and emerged an atheist. Life and death in the trenches confirmed his view that fate turns on chance. The story of what happened next is told in *Surprised By Joy.*Delete
Swing Low is a good song to see a man off. We wish you many more years!
I recommend a novel by Kevin Powers, *A Shout in the Dark* (Sceptre paperback) which is about slavery. There is an unforgettable young woman called Nurse who is a slave in Virginia. The author fought in Iraq with the U.S. army.
I don't know my feelings on this one, Mr. Pudding. I used to sing this in church as a child. One would just hope that the meaning of this tune sung in lusty voice is understood by the singers who would also know the trauma people felt and dealt with in the era of slavery in the United States and elsewhere. In addition, I don't know what the words would have to do with sport! Perhaps it is because my thoughts only go one place in time when I hear it or sing it and that place is a slave cabin or cotton field. So, after thinking this through, I would have to disagree with you, my friend.ReplyDelete
Disagree with me? Surely that is against the law!...I am being silly. Thank you for your reflection upon this matter.Delete
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.ReplyDelete