While visiting Blanche several days ago I happened to ask her if she knew why my cousin was named Juanita. I had never understood why she was given a Spanish name. Blanche didn't know, but she proceeded to tell me about the song Juanita that great uncle George Gregory Howard (1841-1916) wanted "sung over him."
I had never heard of the song, so Blanche sang me the final chorus: "Nita! Juanita! Let me linger by thy side! Nita! Juanita! Be my own fair bride." Then, of course, she quoted the rest of the song (how does she remember so much?).
Soft o'er the fountain
Ling'ring falls the Southern moon,
Far o'er the mountain,
Breaks the day too soon!
In thy dark eyes splendor,
Where the warm light loves to dwell,
Weary looks yet tender,
Speak their fond farewell.
Ask thy soul if we should part!
Lean thou on my heart.
When in thy dreaming,
Moons like these shall shine again,
And daylight beaming,
Prove thy dreams are vain,
Wilt thou not relenting,
For thine absent lover's sight,
In thy heart consenting,
To a prayer gone by?
Let me linger by thy side!
Be my own fair bride.
Juanita was written by Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton (1808-1877), and was included in Confederate "songsters," inexpensive collections of secular song lyrics, that were popular with southern soldiers during the Civil War.
Although not a religious song, Juanita was in at least 5 hymnals from 1907-1951, including adult Bible Class hymnals, and hymnals designed to be used in "chapel, assemblies, convocations, or general exercises of schools."
Blanche confirms that Juanita was sung at great uncle George Gregory's funeral...and, I wonder, was my uncle Enoch (1903-1972) inspired by the song to name his daughter Juanita? Maybe she will read this post, and let us know!
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of midwifery on Ocracoke. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082112.htm.