(The emotional tone of much of the writing during the Civil Rights movement often emulated that of the Biblical prophets in insisting that there is an ultimate standard of right and wrong against which policies like segregation and other prejudicial actions must be measured.)

Birmingham
Birmingham Sunday
[1]

words by Richard Fariña

The event that led Richard Fariña, husband of Mimi Fariña, the sister of Joan Baez, to write the folk song, “Birmingham Sunday” in memory of four young girls who were murdered on September 15, 1963 at 10:22 AM by a bomb blast at the 16TH Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, is told in detail in the story that is found at the link below:

http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/poe…birmingham.htm

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s eulogy for the 4 girls can be found at

http://www.stanford.edu/group/King/p…_children.html

The song “Birmingham Sunday” was made popular by Joan Baez [2], who sang [it to raise] the consciousness of the American people in that great struggle for Black civil rights and dignity that ultimately prevailed and culminated in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 [also] established the basis in law used to address discrimination against disabled Americans, though the struggle for GLBT American’s civil rights continues in America today.

Birmingham Sunday

words by Richard Fariña
melody [3]: English Traditional (“I Once Loved a Lass”) [*]

Come round by my side and I’ll sing you a song
I’ll sing it so softly, it’ll do no one wrong
On Birmingham Sunday, the blood ran like wine
And the choir kept singing of freedom

That cold autumn morning no eyes saw the sun
And Addie Mae Collins, her number was one
At an old Baptist church, there was no need to run
And the choir kept singing of freedom

The clouds they were gray and the autumn winds blew
And Denise McNair brought the number to two
The falcon of Death was a creature they knew
And the choir kept singing of freedom

The church it was crowded but no one could see
That Cynthia Wesley’s dark number was three
Her prayers and her feelings would shame you and me
And the choir kept singing of freedom

Young Carol Robertson entered the door
And the number her killers had given was four
She asked for a blessing, but asked for no more
And the choir kept singing of freedom

On Birmingham Sunday the noise shook the ground
And people all over the earth turned around
For no one recalled a more cowardly sound
And the choir kept singing of freedom

The men in the forest, they asked it of me
How many blackberries grew in the blue sea
And I asked them right with a tear in my eye
How many dark ships in the forest

The Sunday has come and the Sunday has gone
And I can’t do much more than to sing you this song
I’ll sing it so softly, it’ll do no one wrong
And the choirs keep singing of freedom

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

[1] from an article at:
http://progressivesonline.com/showthread.php?t=633

[2] Joan Baez can be heard singing “Birmingham Sunday” on the video:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQ0y-vO9QLE

[3] for a history of this melody, see:
http://www.justanothertune.com/html/ilal.html

[*] one version of the original English text:

I once loved a lass and I loved her so well
I hated all others who spoke of her ill
But now she’s rewarded me well for my love
She’s gone to be wed to another

I watched as my love did to the church go
With bride and bride-maidens she made a fine show
And I followed her on with a heart full of woe
To see my love be wed to another
To see my love be wed to another

I watched as my love did sit down to dine
I sat down beside her and I poured out the wine
And I drank to the wee lass that should have been mine
But now she is wed to another

“Well, stop,” says the groomsman, “If you take my word
Would you venture your life on the point of a sword?
For courting too slowly you have lost this fair maiden
Begone, you will never enjoy her
Begone, you will never enjoy her”

Now the lads of the forest, they ask it of me
“How many strawberries grow ’round the salt sea?”
And I answer them back with a tear in my eye
“How many ships sail in the forest?”

Go dig me a grave all large, wide and deep
And cover it over with wild flowers sweet
And lay me down gently for to take my long sleep
And that’s the best way to forget her

So we dug him a grave all large, wide and deep
And covered it over with wild flowers sweet
And we laid him down gently for to take his long sleep
And maybe by now he’s forgotten
And maybe by now he’s forgotten