Sunday, April 14, 2013

Hutchinson Family Singers Civil War Song Lyrics

Sheet music for "Get Off the Track!", 1844
Over the past few years I've written several blog posts about the Hutchinson Family Singers.  Their father, Jesse Hutchinson (1778 – 1851) was a 3rd cousin many generations removed.  He bought his home in Milford, New Hampshire from my 5th great grandfather, Colonel Joshua Burnham, and they were lifelong friends.  His eldest son, Jesse, Jr. (1813 – 1853), saw several performances in Boston of European singers using four part harmony.  He taught his brothers to sing in four part harmony to mimic what he saw on stage, and put together a traveling show.  Their twelve year old sister, Abby (1829- 1892), joined the brothers and they became a national sensation. They introduced four part harmony to American audiences, and it has become a very American musical tradition.

As the first celebrity musical act in American history, the Hutchinson Family Singers used their fame to advance progressive causes.  They sang about women’s suffrage, abolitionism, temperance, Native American causes, and worker’s rights.  They are most famous for their Civil War Era songs.  Their most famous song was probably “Tenting Tonight on the Old Campground”.  Their most controversial performance was on 17 January 1862 at the Fairfax Courthouse in Virginia, when some of the troops protested the anti-slavery lyrics of a musical version of John Greenleaf Whittier’s poem “We Wait Beneath the Furnace Blast” sung to the Lutheran hymn tune “Ein Feste Burg Ist Unser Gott” (“A Mighty Fortress is Our God”, from Psalm 46).

I have heard the Hutchinson Family Songs performed on stage and in recordings.  Unfortunately, there is no recording of their actual voices since they lived before this was possible.  I only recently found the lyrics of their songs.  I’m posting the lyrics here for the Third American Civil War Blog Challenge hosted by Bill West.


Get Off The Track!
by Jesse Hutchinson, Jr.


Ho! the car, Emancipation,
Rides majestic thro' our nation
Bearing on its train, the story
Liberty! a nation's glory. 

Roll it along! Roll it along!
Roll it along! thro' the nation
Freedom's car, Emancipation

Roll it along! Roll it along!
Roll it along! thro' the nation
Freedom's car, Emancipation. 

Men of various predilections,
Frightened, run in all directions;
Merchants, editors, physicians,
Lawyers, priests and politicians. 

Get out of the way! Get out of the way!
Get out of the way! every station,
Clear the track of 'mancipation. 

Get out of the way! Get out of the way!
Get out of the way! every station,
Clear the track of 'mancipation. 

All true friends of emancipation,
Haste to freedom's rail road station;
Quick into the cars get seated,
All is ready, and completed. 

Put on the steam! Put on the steam!
Put on the steam! All are crying,
And the liberty flags are flying. 

Put on the steam! Put on the steam!
Put on the steam! All are crying,
And the liberty flags are flying. 

Hear the mighty car wheels humming!
Now look out! the engine's coming!
Church and statesmen! hear the thunder!
Clear the track! or you'll fall under. 

Get off the track! Get off the track!
Get off the track! all are singing,
While the liberty bell is ringing. 

Get off the track! Get off the track!
Get off the track! all are singing,
While the liberty bell is ringing. 

See the people run to meet us;
At the depots thousands greet us;
All take seats with exultation,
In the car, Emancipation. 

Huzza! Huzza! Huzza! Huzza!
Huzza! Huzza! Emancipation
Soon will bless our happy nation.

Huzza! Huzza! Huzza! Huzza!
Huzza! Huzza! Emancipation
Soon will bless our happy nation.

Huzza!


“Get off the Track” was sung to the tune of “Dan Tucker”.  The 1844 lyrics were written by Jesse Hutchinson, Jr. and published Boston: Henry Prentiss, April 1844.  The cover shows a train labeled with the names of three well known abolitionist newspapers “Herald of Freedom”, “American Standard” and “Liberator”.   In the background two trains have crashed, labeled “Clay” and “Van Buren”, two Democratic (pro-slavery) candidates.  You can find this song also in the book The Anti-Slavery Harp; A Collection of Songs for Anti-Slavery Meetings. Compiled by William W. Brown, A Fugitive Slave (Boston: Bela Marsh, 1848)


You can see and hear the song at this YouTube video presentation



In 2011 I visited the Smithsonian Museum of American History and was surprised to see the sheet music for the Hutchinson Family song "Get Off the Track!" on display.  We were excited to find a bit of family history in our nation's most famous history museum! 



------------------
The Slave’s Appeal
by Jesse Hutchinson, Jr. 

Over the mountain, and over the moor,
Comes the sad wailing of many a poor slave;
The father, the mother, and children are poor,
And they grieve for the day their freedom to have.
Pity, kind gentlemen, friends of humanity,
Cold is the world to the cries of God's poor,
Give us our freedom, ye friends of equality,
Give us our rights, for we ask nothing more.

Call us not indolent, vile and degraded,
White men have robbed us of all we hold dear;
Parents and children, the young and the aged,
Are scourged by the lash of the rough overseer.
Pity, kind gentlemen, friends of humanity,
Cold is the world to the cries of God's poor,
Give us our freedom, ye friends of equality,
Give us our rights, for we ask nothing more.

And God in his mercy shall crown your endeavors,
The glory of heaven shall be your reward;
The promise of Jesus to you shall be given,
"Enter, ye faithful, the joy of the Lord."
Pity, kind gentlemen, friends of humanity,
Cold is the world to the cries of God's poor,
Give us our freedom, ye friends of equality,
Give us our rights, for we ask nothing more.

The song “The Slave’s Appeal” was adapted by Jesse Hutchinson, Jr. from H. Piercy’s “The Beggar Girl” circa 1798.  The original music score can be found at the website of the Levy Collection of Sheet Music at Johns Hopkins University http://levysheetmusic.mse.jhu.edu/

Both of the songs “The Slave’s Appeal” and “Get off the Track” were often greeted with mob violence.  The Hutchinson Family friend, Francis Bicknell Carpenter (1830 – 1900) said that Abby “would look directly into the eyes of the mob leaders, invariable with the effect of subduing the unruly spirits”  [ Frank Carpenter, New York Home Journal, December 7, 1892]   Frank Carpenter also did a portrait of Abby Hutchinson which hangs in the collections of the Lynn, Massachusetts Historical Society. 

See the webpage for Abby Hutchinson Patton (1829-1892) at this link: http://www.oocities.org/unclesamsfarm/abby.htm    
or see Alan Lewis’s entire website on the Hutchinson family at http://www.oocities.org/unclesamsfarm/abby.htm (formerly a Geocities website, now archived at Oocities.org)

I've written many blog posts about the Hutchinson Family Singers.  You can find this tag listed in the right hand column and click on it to read all these posts.  These three blog posts about the Hutchinson Family Singers give the most genealogical information:

The Hutchinson Family Singers

The Illiterate Colonel (my 5x great grandfather Joshua Burnham, who sold his house to the Hutchinson Family Singers) http://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2010/01/illiterate-colonel.html

Hutchinson Family - The Saga Continues!

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Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

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