Vermont Folklife Center

After the Civil War this song was popular with freed slaves. Below is the full text of the song.

"Cruel Slavery Days"

I am thinking today 'bout the times passed away,
When they tied me up in bondage long ago.
In old Virginia state, is where we separate.
And it fills my heart with misery and woe.
They took away my boy who was his mother's joy.
A baby from the cradle him we raised.
Then they put us far apart and it broke the old man's heart,
In those agonizing, cruel slavery days.

Though they'll never come again let us give our praise to Him.
Who looks down where the little children play.
Every night and morn' we'll pray for them that's gone.
In those agonizing cruel slavery days.

My memory will steal o'er the old cabin floor
And at night when all is dark we hear the watch dog bark
And listen to the murmurs of the wind.
It seemed to say to me, you people must be free.
For the happy 'times are comin' Lord we pray.
Forget now and forgive has always been my guide.
For that's what the Golden Scripture says.
But my memory will turn 'round back to when I was tied down
And for them we'll weep and mourn, for our souls were not our own,
In those agonizing cruel slavery days.

I'm very old and feeble now my hair is turning gray.
I have traveled o'er the roughest kinds of roads.
Through all the toils and sorrows I have reached the end at last.
Now I'm resting by the way-side with my load.