Jamaica Jim's Silly Stuff - "Sermon of the Psaltree"

Jamaica Jim's Silly Insanity!

The Sermon of the Psaltree

Original Psaltre Brochure
(Both outside and inside pages shown below)

Mr. Willis has made some adaptions of Uncle Remus, which were made into radio programs.  It is probable that in the near future we may put out an album of records, from which children may hear the stories of Bre'r Rabbit and Bre'r Fox pronounced just as the old man told the stories to the little white boy from the "Big House," while sitting beside his cabin fireplace so many years ago.
Have you ever been puzzled as to what present to give a friend?  Practically all the few records of the first issue that went to the public were taken by persons, who, after hearing one, would send in a list of friends to whom they wanted it sent.  It will be highly valued by any educated person who knows anything of the Bible; it is entirely unique; it will not be dumped in the cellar to collect dust.
If you send us your order with your card and the date on which you want it shipped to your friends, it will be sent at that time.  These records are twelve inches double-faced, playing time eight minutes, made of plastic and should last indefinitely.  The permanent plastic records will be mailed C. O. D. by Dialect Records Co. for $2.20 each, plus postage and tax or your check for $2.50.


P. O. Box 734




Peasaltre Sermon Preacher by Holman Willis

    The true Negro dialect of the time of Uncle Remus preserved on a permanent plastic record.
     It is one you will want to give to your best friend and keep for your children.  If you wane to make a friend, give him one.
    No owner of a Psaltree record has ever failed to put it on for any group. that came near his player.  It is full of laughs.
    It, is a classic and belongs with your classics.  No record library can be coinplete without it.
    Probably nothing even similar has ever before been recorded.

P. O. Box 734

The Psaltree

Entirely different from any record you
have ever heard

Collectors have literally clamored for this record for years.  The author made it originally for distribution to his family and friends in order that they might have a better understanding of the Negro of the old South and  has only decided to let us put an edition out  for the public, after receiving urgent and insistent requests from all over the United States.  While this record is full of laughs, its chief interest lies in the fact that it is an authentic record of the dialect and some of the quaint expressions of the Southern Negro, who is now gone.  It illustrates a sermon by a Negro preacher of fifty years or more ago, as well as the belief of many of them that, if they would let the Bible fall open at random, the first verse on which their eyes rested would be the text to which the Lord had guided them as appropriate for the day's sermon.  Only a master of extemporaneous speaking would have dared to follow this practice.

Historical Interest

Though much of it seems droll now, many of those men were orators of high order and exerted a vast power for good among their   people.  But they loved the flesh pots and spent much time "gleaning in the Vinyard of the Lord," which was most frequently some good sister's kitchen.  This is not the dialect of the  Negro  field hand or levee worker, but of the ministry, who could frequently read print, called "readin'," as,, distinguished from "writin'," or longhand, and had read largely from the Bible, but were short on history.  Naturally all they read was interpreted in terms of the period in which they lived.
A widely known writer once asked, "What would you give for a transcription of a conversation with Captain John Smith or Miles Standish?"  The true negro dialect is largely that of   the early settlers, from whom he learned English.  It seems that much of that English was not spoken as written.  While his white neighbors modernized their speech, the Negro  spoken as written.  While his white neighbors modernized their speech, the Negro continued for nearly two centuries to speak English as he first learned it.

For instance "ask" was always "axe," "going" was "gwine," "it"  was "hit" and "help" was "hope." Shakespeare, Milton and Alexander Pope use these spellings at times, as do the white mountain people who have had little contact with the outside world.

The author admits one lack of fidelity to the original, in that the sermon is not intoned or chanted as the typical Negro sermon of that time was.  Nor, except at one point, does it  carry the irrelevant high-sounding phrases and Biblical quotations liberally sprinkled through the originals, which, for some reason, seemed entirely correct and most effective when used by those masters of their craft.  One of their favorites, when describing any pious Biblical character was "and he played on the harp with a thousand strings — spirits of righteous men to make perfect," but note from the record how this sentence is pronounced.  This method of intoning would probably have rendered it unintelligible to most people and record space did not permit the frequent interpolations.

This record was made by Mr. Holman Willis, who spent his early life in Piedmont Virginia, and in a country community of the deep south where the population consisted largely of Negroes, many of whom were  grown men and women when freed from slavery.  The dialect of these people, constituting about ten per cent of our population,  was practically a language in itself.  It seems incredible that we are to lose this language, when true recordings of it can still be made.  We are flooded with accounts of the progress  of the Negro but the history of the rise of the race will not be complete without standards  for comparison by which that rise may be measured.

As Mr. Willis has seen the old Negroes   who spoke their original dialect rapidly dying and has heard the frequently ridiculous imitations current, he has become interested in pre-serving not only the pronunciation but the hundreds of quaint constructions they used.  It is so much a part of our history, but it can  not be written.  There is hardly a. handful of people alive today who can read Uncle Remus and pronounce the words as the Negroes did and fewer still who can use the little inflections and nuances as in the original.

Above is a copy and paste of the scanned brochure that accompanied the original phonograph record I purchased, prior to getting the Psaltree Sermon on CD.

Above, original 78 rpm Record Label

You can now download the Psaltree Sermon MP3 file here!
Just click on the above link and save it to your computer
and play it anytime! But, be aware that this is a really BIG
file - about 8.1 meg!  And, if you are interested, I do have
the file saved as a wav file, and I can possibly send it to
you on a CD,  but it's a whopping 100 meg!  Enjoy!

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