My Way's Cloudy
DESCRIPTION: Chorus: "O brethren, my way, my way's cloudy, my way, O send one angel down (x2)." Verses: "There's fire in the east and fire in the west, And fire among the Methodist." "This is the year of Jubilee, The Lord has come to set us free."
EARLIEST DATE: 1901 (Dett); 1893 (see notes)
KEYWORDS: slavery Bible nonballad religious floatingverses Devil
FOUND IN: US(SE)
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Dett, p. 231, "My Way's Cloudy" (1 text, 1 tune; p. 97 in the 1901 edition) [for 1893 edition, see notes]
NOTES: In Dett's verses, every alternate line is "Send one angel down."
Dett includes the floater "Old Satan's mad and I am glad, He missed the soul he thought he had."
Perhaps the Biblical reference for "send one angel down" is Psalms 91:11: "For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways"; as for "the year of Jubilee," Leviticus 25:54 has "And if he not be redeemed in these years, then he shall go out in the year of jubile, both he, and his children with him." (King James) - BS
(The idea being that, every fifty years was a Jubilee year, and in the year of Jubilee, the Israelites were to free their Israelite slaves. This law applied specifically to Hebrews -- the Israelites were allowed to keep foreign slaves in bondage, which is how Americans justified Negro servitude -- but one can see how American slaves seeking freedom would adopt the language! - RBW)
The index to the 1893 edition [of Dett] has "My way's cloudy" on page 97, with the note "Fisk Jubilee Collection, by permission" (Thomas P. Fenner and Frederic G. Rathbun, Cabin and Plantation Songs (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1893)). I have not seen page 97. - BS
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