Darling Nelly Gray

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Melody - Seq. by Werner Tomaschewski
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Benjamin R. Hanby, 1856

There's a low green valley by the old Kentucky shore
Where we've whiled many happy hours away,
A-sitting and a-singing by the little cottage door,
Where lived my darling Nelly Gray.
Chorus:
Oh my poor Nelly Gray, they have taken you away
And I'll never see my darling any more.
I'm a-sitting by the river and I'm weeping all the day
For you're gone from the old Kentucky shore.

2. One night I went to see her but "she's gone" the neighbors say,
The white man bound her with his chain,
They have taken her to Georgia to wear her life away,
As she toils in the cotton and the cane.
Chorus:

3. My canoe is under water and my banjo is unstrung
I'm tired of living anymore;
My eyes shall look downward and my songs shall be unsung
While I stay on the old Kentucky shore.
Chorus:

4. My eyes are getting blinded and I cannot see my way,
Hark! there's someone knocking at my door;
Oh! I hear the angels calling and I see my Nelly Gray
Farewell to the old Kentucky shore.
Chorus:
Oh, my darling Nelly Gray, up in heaven there they say
That they'll never take you from me any more;
I'm a-coming, coming coming as the angels clear the way
Farewell to the old Kentucky shore.


Hanby's father was an abolitionist and his home was a station on the Underground Railroad. This song was supposedly inspired by a runaway slave named Joseph Selby who was on his way to Canada to make enough money to buy the freedom of a fellow slave named Nelly Gray.

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