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Article " Nobody Knows de Trouble I've Seen" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

Nobody Knows de Trouble I've Seen, 1917, by Harry Thacker Burleigh, 1866-1949.
Nobody Knows de Trouble I've Seen, 1917. Harry Thacker Burleigh, 1866-1949. Music Division, Library of Congress. Call number: M1671.N

Following the success of Deep River in 1917, Burleigh arranged and published nearly a dozen more settings of African-American spirituals in the same year, including Nobody Knows de Trouble I've Seen. Burleigh's simpler arrangement of the spiritual for unison chorus had previously appeared in Afro-American Folksongs (1914), edited by Henry E. Krehbiel. G. Ricordi & Co., New York published versions for solo voice, men's chorus, and women's chorus in 1917. A version for mixed chorus was published in 1924.

The SSA version of the spiritual was arranged by Nathaniel Clifford Page (1866-1956) and published simultaneously with the version for solo voice. Burleigh alternates quietly intense refrains with declamatory forte verses. Page cleverly moves the melody between the top two voices and gives the alto a bit of contrapuntal interest at the beginning each verse. Burleigh's startling augmented harmony on the word "seen" is replaced with a comforting F-major chord when the lyric is repeated in the second and final refrain.

About this Item


  • " Nobody Knows de Trouble I've Seen" by Harry Thacker Burleigh


  • -  Burleigh, H. T. (Harry Thacker), 1866-1949
  • -  Progressive Era to New Era (1900-1929)
  • -  Songs and Music
  • -  Parlor and Concert Stage
  • -  Traditional and Ethnic Songs and Music
  • -  Articles


  • article

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