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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Melody (08/24/06)

TITLE: An Earthly Task, an' a Heavenly Melody
By Chrissi Dunn


“They crucified my Lord,
An’ he never said a mumbalin’ word
They crucified my Lord,
An’ he never said a mumbalin word”

Benjamin Johnson sure has a strong voice, beltin’ out that melody. Not a mumbalin’ word, he say. As I pick another pure white ball of cotton, I’m just wonderin’ at it all. It’s not the first time I heard this said ‘bout our Saviour. Ol’ Ezra said last Sunday that he heard Jesus was like a lamb ready to be slaughtered. When they went to crucify him, he didn’t even open his mouth. Not a sound, not even an angry thought ’bout them that was doin‘ it all.

Can’t wait to be like Jesus, when I see him up in Heaven. Wish I could keep my mouth shut when the boss whip my friend, Jim for prickin’ his fingers on the thorns. Wish I could stop feelin’ all this hatred. Lord, I don’t want to hate the master, you know, but I just can’t help it. An’ yet you know what it was like. Ain’t no-one understood you, an’ they put you through more pain than this. Forgive me, Lord. Forgive me.

I join in after Benjamin, with the chorus. We sing together, like we one voice.

“Not a word, not a word, not a word.
He bowed his head an’ died,
An’ he never said a mumbalin word.”

Lookin’ round at the others here, it sure is a pathetic sight. Some old, some young. Some weak, some strong. Some mothers pinin’ for their babies, some older folk strainin’ to see the stalks of white fluff. An’ still we all the same. One colour, one earthly master, an’ one nasty cotton pickin‘ job. All got the same story to tell. Most got scars to show the hard times they been through. Sometime I wish I’d ran away, like Jim. They still ain’t never found him. An’ my sister she got away too, to a better destination - crossed over the Jordan, and now she see His face every day. Sometime I think o’ her, beside the crystal sea. Must be a wonderful place, Heaven.

But here I am still lookin’ at my people an’ brimmin’ with pride. Their faces, though tortured an’ pained, are shinin’ light into these dark times. Cos’ we know we only here to visit. Soon, an’ very soon, we will go to be with Him. The more I think about it, the louder I sing.

“Oh bye an’ bye, bye an’ bye,
I’m goin’ to lay down my heavy load.”

I’m lost in a daydream ‘bout the mansions above. I smile at Benjamin. He smile back, but then he point to my cotton sack. He don’t want to see me whipped for havin’ too little like last time. Had been twelve pounds short - a pound for every year o’ my life. I’m tryin’ not to remember the ordeal, but them scars on my back still stingin’. I pick another ball, then join in the chorus again. Looks like I got to get through all my tasks on this earth, before I’m ready to see my Lord. ‘Til then, I sing, as though my voice a part of the melody of them Heavenly choirs that await me.

“Sweet music in heaven,
Just beginnin’ for to roll.
Don't you love God?
Glory, hallelujah !”

* Song words taken from various Negro Spiritual songs.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Marilyn Schnepp 09/02/06
Love those old time spirtuals...but perhaps they only were sung when times were bad, so I hate to say that I'd love to hear them again; but I would without the added effect of a cruel plantation boss. Nice story.
Edy T Johnson 09/04/06
I love your little narrator, picking cotton and singing and reminiscing. You have effectively plunged the reader right into the heart of your story.
david grant09/07/06
Very original. I was there in the field with you. A DAVEY for you!