Lorena

DESCRIPTION: "The years creep slowly by, Lorena; The snow is on the grass again." The singer recalls his early years with Lorena, and remembers how much he loved her. He tells her that he still loves her as truly
AUTHOR: Words: H.D.L. Webster/Music: J.P. Webster
EARLIEST DATE: 1857 (sheet music published by Higgins Brothers of Chicago)
KEYWORDS: love age
FOUND IN: US(MA,Ro,So,SW)
REFERENCES (15 citations):
Belden, p. 222, "Lorena" (1 text)
Randolph 757, "Lorena and Paul Vane" (2 texts, 2 tunes, of which the first is "Lorena' and the second "Lorena's Answer")
Moore-Southwest 179, "Lorena" (1 text, 1 tune)
Hubbard, #63, "Lorena" (1 text, 1 tune)
Logsdon 24, pp. 249-153, "Lorena" (1 text, 1 tune)
RJackson-19CPop, pp. 122-125, "Lorena" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-CivWarFull, pp. 134-136, "Lorena" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-CivWarAbbr, pp. 58-59, "Lorena" (1 text, 1 tune)
WolfAmericanSongSheets, #1309, p. 89, "Lorena" (3 references)
Emerson, pp. 59-62, "Lorena" (1 text)
Arnett, pp. 90-91, "Lorena" (1 text, 1 tune)
Hill-CivWar, p. 228, "Lorena" (1 text)
Silber-FSWB, p. 255, "Lorena" (1 text)
cf. Gardner/Chickering, p. 481, "Lorena" (source notes only)
DT, LORENNA*

ST R757 (Full)
Roud #4246
RECORDINGS:
Blue Ridge Mountain Singers, "Lorena" (Columbia 15550-D, 1930)
Smyth County Ramblers, "Way Down in Alabama" (Victor 40144, 1928; on LostProv1)

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Lorena's Answer (Paul Vane)"
NOTES: The most popular sentimental song of the Civil War. Ironically, in the original Henry deLafayette Webster poem, the girl was Bertha.
To add to the name confusion, Logsdon reports that Henry Webster had been deeply in love with a girl named Ella. (E. Lawrence Abel, Singing the New Nation: How Music Shaped the Confederacy, 1861-1865, Stackpole, 2000, p. 214, gives her full name as Eleanor Blockson, whom he met as a parish minister in Zanesville, Ohio.) Family opposition prevented their marriage (Abel says they discussed running away together, but concluded they could not earn enough money to survive), but Webster was apparently still carrying a torch when he wrote this, though he changed the name to make it seem less personal.
But when Joseph Philbrick Webster (no relation to H. Webster) set the poem to music, he needed a three-syllable name, and so "Lorena" was born. The name is said to be a combination of "Bertha" and Edgar Allan Poe's "lost Lenore"; the name was not in use until the Websters produced their song.(Or so it is claimed. However, I note that both the mother and the sister of Alice Liddell were named Lorina, with an I; Lorina Liddell is thought to be the Lory in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. So "Lorena" wasn't so much a new name as a new spelling.)
The famous Civil War diarist Mary Chestnut illustrated how popular this song was. According toA bel, p. 213. Mrs. Chestnut wrote that by 1861 "there [was] a girl in large hoops and a calico frock at every piano between... [Charleston] and the Mississippi, banging [out Lorena] on the out-of-tune thing...." - RBW
Last updated in version 3.8
File: R757

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