Fare You Well

Bob Lee had been in frail health, but yesterday’s news of his passing came as a shock. He sang and drummed with the Spirituals Choir when we performed our annual lunchtime concert at the Oak Bluffs senior center last Thursday. He was at rehearsal the night before. He’s been at virtually all our rehearsals and (many!) performances this year, and he’s been part of the choir since it began nine years ago.

Bob Lee

Bob Lee

Many of the slave songs deal with journeys. In “Fare You Well” slaves who’ve been sold away take leave of family and friends. Separation could happen at any time. The slaves sang the hope of reunion, in the next world if not in this one:

You may bury me in the East
You may bury me in the West
But I’ll hear the trumpet sound
in that morning

For slaves escaping on the Underground Railroad, the journey ahead was long, the partings hard, but the destination — freedom — made it all worth while.

Done made my vow to the Lord
and I never till turn back
I will go, I shall go
to see what the end will be

We’re singing for you, Bob, and missing you so much. Hear the angels singing?



Filed under MV Spirituals Choir, spirituals

4 responses to “Fare You Well

  1. L3slie Freeman

    A friend of Bob Lee’s for over thirty years there was not a visit he did not speak about the MV Spirituals Choir! It was so important to him. He was such a inspiration and FORCE of open heart WARMTH, big sneaky smile and down right Vineyardness! He will be leading the angels in song up there!!

  2. Martha Magee

    Bob Lee looked up at the stars one night
    Perseid Meteors left and right

    So enchanted was he, as somebody said

    His soul
    decided he’d better get dead
    to get in on that party above his sweet head

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