Atlanta Master Chorale & Eric Nelson | Songs and Spirituals of the Civil War

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Folk: Traditional Folk Classical: Choral Music Moods: Type: Vocal
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Songs and Spirituals of the Civil War

by Atlanta Master Chorale & Eric Nelson

Atlanta Master Chorale explores the music of the Civil War which transcends allegiance to North or South, focusing on the common experiences of bravery, fear, loneliness, and loss and encompasses many themes and ideas: songs of the North and South, of soldier and slave, of those who went off to war and those who were left behind. Listen and remember how far we’ve come, and the work which still lies before us.
Genre: Folk: Traditional Folk
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  Song Share Time Download
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1. Wade in the Water (feat. Wade Thomas)
Atlanta Master Chorale & Eric Nelson
4:01 $0.99
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2. Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel
Atlanta Master Chorale & Eric Nelson
2:55 $0.99
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3. Follow the Drinking Gourd
Atlanta Master Chorale & Eric Nelson
2:54 $0.99
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4. Soon-Ah Will Be Done
Atlanta Master Chorale & Eric Nelson
3:17 $0.99
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5. When Johnny Comes Marching Home
Atlanta Master Chorale & Eric Nelson
2:46 $0.99
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6. We Are Coming Father Abraham
Atlanta Master Chorale & Eric Nelson
1:55 $0.99
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7. Goober Peas (feat. Bronson Lee)
Atlanta Master Chorale & Eric Nelson
2:20 $0.99
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8. Bonnie Blue Flag
Atlanta Master Chorale & Eric Nelson
3:55 $0.99
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9. Battle Hymn of the Republic
Atlanta Master Chorale & Eric Nelson
5:14 $0.99
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10. Tenting on the Old Campground (feat. Garrett Pace & Andy McLeod)
Atlanta Master Chorale & Eric Nelson
3:58 $0.99
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11. I Am a Rebel Soldier
Atlanta Master Chorale & Eric Nelson
3:07 $0.99
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12. Tell My Father (With Ashokan Farewell) [feat. Elizabeth Lamback]
Atlanta Master Chorale & Eric Nelson
5:24 $0.99
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13. The Dying Solder (feat. Jacob Augsten)
Atlanta Master Chorale & Eric Nelson
4:45 $0.99
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14. My Country 'Tis of Thee
Atlanta Master Chorale & Eric Nelson
4:07 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
The music that sprang up as a response to the Civil War encompasses many themes and ideas: songs of the North and South, of soldier and slave, of those who went off to war and those who were left behind.

Tracks 1-4 are spirituals that cry out for freedom and release from bondage. Songs such as these were often filled with double meanings and coded instructions for slaves. On the surface, “Wade in the Water” might seem to be about baptism, but it was also a reminder to travel in rivers whenever possible to make movements harder to track. The lyrics of “Follow the Drinking Gourd” are essentially an escape route and an instruction to look for the big dipper—the “drinking gourd”— and thereby locate the north star. “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel” was a reminder that the Bible was filled with stories of people who had been delivered by God out of desperate circumstances. If God delivered them, then “Why not every man?”

Tracks 5-9 are songs that are buoyant and rhythmic. Such music kept morale high and the step light. “We Are Coming, Father Abraham” captures the Union soldiers’ initial enthusiasm of answering Abraham Lincoln’s call to arms. “Goober Peas” was a tongue-in-cheek name for peanuts. This popular novelty song poked fun at the times when peanuts were the only thing available to eat on the meager Confederate field menu.
Much of the music of the Civil War transcends allegiance to North or South. It focuses on the common experiences of bravery, fear, loneliness, and loss. But there are some songs that were intentionally written to inflame passions—to inspire one side to action, to justify that action, while vilifying the other. One such song is “The Bonnie Blue Flag.” The flag, used by the Confederate Army, was a single white star on a blue background. The song in praise of this banner was so catchy and infectious that when Union forces captured New Orleans in 1862, the northern soldiers learned the tune and began whistling it constantly. The commanding officer, known to his men as “Spoons” Butler, grew so frustrated hearing the song wherever he went that he arrested the song’s publisher, fined him $500, and ordered the destruction of all existing copies. As if that weren’t enough, he issued a decree that anyone caught singing, playing, or even whistling the melody would be fined $25. These were drastic measures and a lot of money in 1862, but none of it worked. So, another solution was found. The northern forces kept the tune in place and wrote an entirely new set of words to go with it, matching the inflammatory language of the South with equally inflammatory language of their own. This arrangement alternates between these versions of "The Bonnie Blue Flag", beginning with the original Southern version.
Tracks 10-13 reflect the difficulty of life on the battlefield, the deep melancholy of being far from home, and the cost of war’s ultimate sacrifice. The CD concludes with Mack Wilberg’s stirring arrangement of “My Country ‘tis of Thee.” The tune has been used in England as “God Save the King/Queen” since the mid-1700s. The American version of the text was written by Samuel Francis Smith, a Baptist minister, and first performed at an Independence Day celebration in 1831. Though written 30 years before the start of the Civil War, we present it here as an offering of hope, and as a reminder of our nation’s ongoing struggle to “Let freedom ring!”


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