Shelby is new to WCS this year. A seventh grader, she started for my middle school basketball team and now is busy pitching for our softball squad. Shelby is also an accomplished artist, having her clay statue of a cowboy boot entered and honored at the Houston Rodeo. (You might need to be from Houston to realize what a big deal that is!) She's a pretty typical just turned teenager- funny and full of life as well as slightly confusing to male coaches. Shelby greatly improved during the basketball season and has a chance to be an excellent point guard for us as an eighth grader.
Our middle school basketball programs are set up to be together all year so I still have the girls first period. Sometime back in the winter when I was being silly, I asked Shelby about the song that was written about her. Of course, she had no idea what I was talking about so I started singing, "Shelby comin' round the mountain when she comes." She got a laugh out of it or at least acted like it to humor me. It became a bit of a running gag between us; I like players I can clown around with a little. On Friday, we didn't practice because our facility was being used for a lower school get-together called, "Muffins With Mom." (Next week, "Donuts With Dad" is on the docket!) On days we can't work out, we meet in my classroom and we did so two days ago. Shelby and I were talking and that song came up. She remarked she thought it was REALLY OLD, maybe fifteen years even! I was pretty sure it was much older because I sang it as a kid, slightly more than a decade and a half ago. In all matters dealing with details, I turn to google and found out that although there is no exact date of origin or author, it's believed She'll Be Comin' Round The Mountain was being sung in the late 1800s. Classified as an African-American folk song and children's song, it was sung by the workers building the railroads that would tie the nation together. That was all interesting but not what intrigued me. You see, the song was originally a spiritual hymn called When The Chariot Comes whose topic was the return of Jesus Christ. So, the ditty I kidded Shelby about in reality was about the second coming. And I thought it was just for kids! According to the modern day Encyclopedia Britannica, Jesus would be at the reins of the chariot. Here are the verses listed:
O, who will drive the chariot When she comes? O, who will drive the chariot When she comes? O, who will drive the chariot, O, who will drive the chariot, O, who will drive the chariot When she comes?
King Jesus, he'll be driver when she comes, When she comes . . . .
She'll be loaded with bright Angels When she comes . . . .
She will neither rock nor totter, When she comes . . . .
She will run so level and steady, When she comes . . . .
She will take us to the portals, When she comes . . . .
We never sang that version back in Nebraska! (I do have a favorite secular version of the subject of The Return, Are Your Ready? by Pacific Gas & Electric!) So, a century and a half ago, believers were singing about the Judgment Day and it still hasn't come to pass. We sing some songs about heaven in worship but outside of When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder, I can't recall our singing much about the point in time when time ......... stops. (I loved as a kid hearing the York College chorus performing the wonderful spiritual hymn, In That Great Gettin' Up Morning!) Jesus told us we can't know the day or hour....so be prepared and He used multiple illustrations to teach preparation. Even in the days of the apostles, there were doubters. In his 2nd epistle, Peter prophesied in chapter 3 that,
They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”
Peter goes on to make several points, that the Day of the Lord will come like a thief; that the Lord wants all to repent; that our definition of time is meaningless to our creator. And two thousand years later, we still watch and pray and wait. Someday, the waiting will be over and the songs about that day will come to pass. Maybe even today.
Applicable quote of the day:
All music is folk music. I ain't never heard a horse sing a song.
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