At an Easter performance of the Orem (Utah) Chorale, I was emotionally touched by the Negro spiritual “Take My Mother Home”:
I think I heard Him say when He was struggling up the hill/I think I heard Him say, take my mother home/Then I’ll die easy, take my mother home/I’ll die so easy, take my mother home
I think I heard Him say, when they was raffling off His clothes/I think I heard Him say, take my mother home/I think I heard Him cry when they was nailing in the nails/I think I heard him cry, take my mother home
I’ll die this death on Calvary, ain’t gonna die no more/I’ll die on Calvary, ain’t gonna die no more/Ain’t gonna die no more
I think I heard Him say, when he was giving up the ghost/I think I heard Him say, please, take my mother home/Please take my mother home
The song not only gives a very personal tone to the crucifixion, but also adds an important reminder of the terrors of slavery, and how religious music was important to the survivors.
While the chorale was singing, I couldn’t help but shed a tear. And almost two months later, the song still haunts me, soul-touching stuff.
There is a nice Harry Belafonte version here.