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      Off to California

            Music from the Gold Rush Era

Wayfaring Stranger
This well-known southern gospel number appears in later editions of The Sacred Harp.  Why it didn’t appear earlier is a mystery since it is considered very old–the song played an important role in the Civil War movie based on Charles Frazier’s book Cold Mountain, for example.  This piece marks a mid-point in our recording, where optimism is starting to fade.  The hope of finding gold is bumping up against disease, misfortune, loneliness and plain old back-breaking drudgery.  This may help explain why Dorothy tangled up two common lines used in the second verse–“Where God’s redeemed their vigils keep” and “ Where weary eyes no more will weep”–and accidentally made a new one, a bleaker one.

Lyrics - Hear it - Banjo Tab
Traditional
Sung by Dorothy Hawkinson, harmonies by Andy Alexis and Alan Fuller

I am a poor, wayfaring stranger
while traveling through this world of woe
yet there's no sickness no toil or danger
in that bright land to which I go
Chorus
I'm going there to see my father
I'm going there no more to roam
I'm only going over Jordan
I'm only going over home

I know dark clouds will gather 'round me
I know my way will be rough and steep
yet beauteous fields lies just before me
where weary eyes there vigils keep
Chorus
I'm going there to see my mother
She said she'd meet me when I come
I'm only going over Jordan
I'm only going over home

I'll soon be free from every trial
my bones asleep in the old graveyard
I'll drop the cross of self denial
and enter in my great reward
Chorus
I'm going there to see my father
I'm going there no more to roam
I'm only going over Jordan
I'm only going over home

 


from the CD
Hard Times in the Promised Land

Hard Times in the Promised Land CD Available at CDBaby