Churchy Poetry from Denton, Texas

By September 17, 2009

While preparing my review (see here) of the recently published When the Saints Came Marching In: A History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Denton, Texas 1958-2008 by George Hubbard, I came across a few items of local poetry that I’ll include here:

A Song to the Saints
By Keith Myrick

Hey, Ma, look at them Mormons, ain’t they fine?
A workin’ an’ a teachin’ and a helpin’ all the time.

Yo kin be a Mormon, Ma, they ain’t much to it.
Jest knuckle down, buckle down, an’ do it, do it, do it.

You kin be a Mormon, Ma, Yessiree bob.
But if you git to be one them yer gonna git a job.

Like them missionaries, ain’t they swell?
Teachin’ and a preachin an’ really givin’ folks…lessons.

Jest lookit them Elders, ain’t they neat?
Knockin’ them door panels up and down the street.

Up town, down town, workin’ for the Lord
Passin’ out Mormon books, and settin’ up flannel boards.

An’ lookit them Deacons, ain’t them little dickens cute?
Some’s dressed up in they Boy Scout suits

Mowin’ that grass an’ pullin them weeds.
Sprucin’ up the Church yard, an’ a doin’ good deeds.

Lookit that Seventy, Ma, ain’t he a dude?
Workin’ genealogy and storin’ up food.

Lookit them Stake Boards travelin’ them miles.
Shakin’ folks hands and a givin’ out smiles.

Tryin’ to help the Wards out, tryin’ to show the way.
So we kin do the Lord’s work better ever day.

An’ lookit that Gleaner gal, ain’t she sweet?
Waitin’ for an ex-missionary to sweep ‘er off ‘er feet.

Lookit them home teachers, ain’t they a crew?
Visitin’ them families like they supposed to do.

Cheerin’ up the sick, and helpin’ the poor,
Some does everything—others does more.

Say, lookit that Bishop, Ma, ain’t he a stepper?
Livin’ on peanut butter, prayers, and Dr Pepper.

Solvin’ folks’ problems, writin’ to their kin.
Preachin’ to they children, and getting’ crops in.

Jest lookit them High Priests, ain’t they a winner?
Settin’ here and eatin’ this free for nuthin’ dinner

How about them High Priests, ain’t they fine?
Workin’ them group sheets, a generation at a time.
Here ya go, High Priest, you kin do mine.

Jest lookit them Mormons, Ma, ain’t they grand?
You kin be a Mormon, Ma, jest takes a little sand.

You kin be a Mormon, too, they ain’t much to it.
Jest knuckle down, buckle down, an’ do it, do it, do it.

Another poem by Myrick paid tribute to an early Church member, John Porter.

Let John Do It

Way back yonder, when we was a Branch
We had an old widow woman who lived on a ranch.
And when she needed help, did the brethren hop to it?
No, they all sat back and said,
“Let John do it.”

Well, time rolled on and we became a Ward
With lots more work to do for the Lord.
Didn’t them Priests and Elders just wade right through it?
Nope, they all sat back and said,
“Let John do it.”

Well, some years came and some years went—
And soon our new stake needed a President.
So the General Authorities came
And before anybody knew it, they’d all said,
“Let John do it.”

Well, you know the day came
When all the brethren were waitin’ in line
In front of them pearly gates so fine,
But the gates was locked and couldn’t anybody undo it
Then the voice of the Lord said,
“Let John through it.”

I love how the author crafts his poems using local speech patterns. I have to ask, though, of anyone from that area, is his rendition of local speech patterns (in the first poem especially) fairly representative of speech among at least a segment of white North Texans, or is it perhaps a bit overwrought for dramatic effect?  Anything stick out to anyone else?

Article filed under Miscellaneous


Comments

  1. Depending on when the first poem was written that accent could be very close to a North Texas/Southern Oklahoma accent. Most Texas accents have softened in the past thirty years with a bigger influx of Californians and Rust Belters. There used to be a saying “Would the last one out of Michigan please turn out the lights?”

    Comment by NJensen — September 17, 2009 @ 1:12 pm

  2. Thank you very much for that perspective, NJensen. I don’t have a date for the poems, but the surrounding material leads me to believe the first is a 60s production, while the second perhaps a late 70s or early 80s production, which would fit in well with your analysis.

    Comment by Jared T — September 17, 2009 @ 1:19 pm

  3. Enjoyable well written poems.

    Comment by Marinela — September 17, 2009 @ 3:12 pm

  4. Talk about authenticity, I loved this line in the first poem:

    Say, lookit that Bishop, Ma, ain’t he a stepper?
    Livin’ on peanut butter, prayers, and Dr Pepper.

    I almost spewed my Diet Dr. Pepper as I read this. Isn’t Denton the home of Dr. Pepper? The bottle says Plano, but I think that’s a recent move.

    Comment by kevinf — September 17, 2009 @ 5:20 pm

  5. Haha, I noticed that too, Kevin. As I understand, it was created in Waco, about 2 hours drive from Denton. So, it’s definitely a local beverage.

    Comment by Jared T — September 17, 2009 @ 6:08 pm

  6. Jared, this is very cool. Thanks for posting it.

    Comment by Christopher — September 17, 2009 @ 11:28 pm


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