Saturday, January 30, 2010
"The Wayfaring Stranger," also known as "Poor Wayfaring Stranger," is a traditional folk song of unknown origin. There are many and varied opinions as to its origin. Some of the theories include Appalachian Folk, Old Irish, and Catskills Folk. One theory is that it originates from the Negro Spirituals and there was a deliberate concealment of the songs origins. The lyrics of negro spirituals were tightly linked with the lives of their authors: slaves. While work songs dealt only with their daily life, spirituals were inspired by the message of Jesus Christ and his Good News (Gospel) of the Bible, "You can be saved". They are different from hymns and psalms, because they were a way of sharing the hard condition of being a slave.
Many slaves in town and in plantations tried to run to a "free country", that they called "my home" or "Sweet Canaan, the Promised Land". This country was on the Northern side of Ohio River, that they called "Jordan". Some negro spirituals refer to the Underground Railroad, an organization for helping slaves to run away.