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Come all who hate old Esau and Jacobs cause defend
See Jacobs faithful struggle on Esau dont depend
Poor Esau's weak and feeble his armour and his shield
Is sure to fall in battle and he will have to yield

The war is now proclaim-ed the battle is begun
I'm bound for full salvation with world and flesh I'm done
I'll keep you at a distance to die it is your doom
I'll never shed a tear for you but lay you in the tomb.

My state is truly awful 'tis more than I can bear
You doom me to destruction I'm almost in despair
I want to have salvation and go to heaven too
But by your cruel language my hopes you would undo.

Heaven is not intended for such a wretch as you
There is a place prepared for all old Adam's crew
I want none of your snuffles your talk will all be vain
I doom you to destruction with your old Brother Cain.

O listen to my story and hear me plead my right
See what I've suffred with dont bring me to the light
I want to be concealed dont bring me to disgrace,
I want to have salvation when I have run my race.

Your race will soon be ended Salvation's not for you
For death it is your portion my strength I will renew
I'll slay you in the battle your torment I'll increase
Now give up for you're undone you never shall have peace.

You treat me more than cruel in anguish I lament
You will not have compassion altho' I do repent.
If I pour out my sorrow and tell you of my pain
I find you're so hard hearted your pity I cant gain

Pity is not intended for any of your race
Destruction is determined to meet you in the face
You need not plead your sorrow nor tell of my hard heart
I'm hard enough to tell you from me you shall depart.

I'm troubled to the centre I wont consent to die
It looks like cruel murder you set me in a fry.
I have been your companion and led you at my will
And now you're se hard hearted my blood you want to spill.

Your blood it shall be spilled the least and last remains
Now you may give the ghost up you surely shall be slain
This is not all your portion to hell you've got to go
With all your generation your doom'd to endless wo

My troubles are enlarged forever I'm undone
I'll plead no more for favor I'm done I'm done I'm done,
I ask no more salvation I yield I yield I yield
I'm sure to have damnation for I have left the field.

The battle is decided Old Esau's left the field
No thanks for your surrender you was obliged to yield
Now I'll go on to conquer dont think to rise again
I have got on the armour and I intend to reign.

abc | midi | pdf
Source: Patterson, D W, 1979, The Shaker Spiritual, Princeton University Press, New Jersey

Punctuation is as it appears in the book, so there is, by modern standards, an absence of commas, full stops and apostrophes. The spelling also as given.

The tune as printed is against the second and third verses. No indication is given for how the first verse should be sung. Nor are the tempos given for either 'Jacob' or 'Esau' tunes. The tempos suggested here are not based upon having heard the song elsewhere.

Patterson recorded that the tunes for 'Jacob' and 'Esau' have a close secular analogue in "Jock of Hazelgreen" and "The Maid I left behind me". The earlier manuscript is dated 1836, but the song is probably considerably older.

Patterson then talks about the harshness of the attacks upon the Shakers and how this led to a corresponding harshness within the Western Shaker societies and gives the following example.

The following scene, for example, entitled in a South Union journal "Humbling of Doctors and Divines", would have been unthinkable at the time in the Eastern societies, or even in the West in later years:

In the evening meeting Dr Calvin Morrell and Rev. R. McNemar underwent the following: The Dr. was first laid on the floor and made to lick the dust and lie as one dead - putting the dust on him thus settling the Doctors. They, the chief actors, David Carey and Saml Rollins, next went mockingly to R. McNemar, saying: How do you do, Rev. Sir? This is the great Rev. Mr. McNemar your vain philosophy and systems of divinity shall be brot down into the dust - they then brot him and dragged him over the floor - rolled him over and over - S. Rollins kicked the dust over him - danced around him putting his foot on his head - D. Carey also put the dust on him, in a sign of burying the Dr. and Divine - after this scene of mortification - the Rev. begain to use scripture in his defence - They silenced him saying, "Not a word out of your mouth - you have explained away the sense of scripture long enough - your head knowledge, shall have an end - Not a sentence out of your mouth." and took him down and humbled him a second time - after this the sign of Esau and Jacob closed the scene.

There is a tendancy these days to gloss the Shaker communities into some sort of Eden or heaven on earth, where all was peace and calm. It is worth being aware of such scenes as a reminder that they were subject to violent irrationality, just like the rest of us.


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