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Fine Arts Friday: My own thing

This month, I like neither the hymn nor the folk song suggested by Ambleside Online. They hymn, which is actually quite lovely, isn’t really singable for our untrained voices. And frankly, that’s the number one quality (after truth, beauty, and goodness) when it comes to picking a song. If we don’t end up adding it to our singing repertoire, what’s the point?

The folk song is “Pick a Bale of Cotton,” which is a well-known slave work-song. It’s catchy, fun to sing, and has a lot of history attached, but it’s not a happy history. I’m not opposed to teaching my kids songs with complicated histories, but somehow I’m just not up to this month.

We just finished reading The Underground Abductor, a fabulous graphic novel about Harriet Tubman. Tubman used songs in her work freeing slaves, so I thought I’d look at that. Since these are both religious and folk songs, they satisfy both requirements. (One of my favorite things about being a homeschooler: I’m the boss of the curriculum!)

Underground Abductor

So for May I give you some of the songs American Superhero Harriet Tubman sang that were really coded messages that helped her bring so many captives to freedom.

“Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” was one of her favorite songs and was sung to let people know to be ready to leave. (We’ll call this the hymn.)
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“Go Down Moses” was her song was code to warn of danger. (We’ll call this the folk song.)


This site has more songs Harriet Tubman used in her remarkable career, as well as more information about the woman herself. Enjoy the songs and the stories of a great American.

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