‘Lorena’ best loved ballad by Dixie boys in War Between the States

Published 6:20 pm Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Walking from my car to the Wells Fargo branch in Landrum, I was startled by a chiding voice that said “You haven’t included any Rebel ballads from the War Between the States in your Twice-told tales column, I see.”
“You are right,” I had to confess. My prime interest in this country is its Revolutionary phase when breaking free of King George’s rule and forming an unique, God-fearing republic, rather than its internal strife just under 100 years later.
“I’ll remedy that soon,” I promised. And, true to that promise, here is the best loved ballad sung by our Rebel soldiers during that conflict. Home folks left in the Dark Corner and throughout Dixie didn’t sing it very much, but it was held dear because it did become a favorite of our boys while they were away.

The years creep slowly by, Lorena,
The snow is on the grass again;
The sun’s low down the sky, Lorena,
The frost gleams where the flowers have been.
But the heart throbs on as warmly now
As when the summer days were nigh;
Oh, the sun can never dip so low
A-down affection’s cloudless sky.

A hundred months have passed, Lorena,
Since last I held that hand in mine
And felt the pulse beat fast, Lorena,
Though mine beat faster far than thine.
A hundred months…’twas flowery May
When up the hilly slope we climbed;
To watch the dying of the day
And hear the distant church bells chime.

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We loved each other then, Lorena,
More than we ever dared to tell;
And what we might have been, Lorena,
Had but our loving prospered well.
But then, ‘tis past, the years have gone
I’ll not call up their shadowy forms;
I’ll say to them, “Lost years, sleep on,
Sleep on, nor heed life’s pelting storms.”

The story of the past, Lorena,
Alas! I care not to repeat;
The hopes that could not last, Lorena,
They lived, but only lived to cheat.
I would not cause e’en one regret
To rankle in your bosom now;
“For if we try we may forget”
Were words of thine long years ago.

Yes, these were words of thine, Lorena,
They are within my memory yet;
They touched some tender chords, Lorena,
Which thrill and tremble with regret.
‘Twas not the woman’s heart which spoke,
Thy heart was always true to me,
A duty stern and piercing broke
The tie which linked my soul with thee.

It matters little now, Lorena,
The past is in the eternal past;
Our hearts will soon lie low, Lorena,
Life’s tide is ebbing out so fast.
There is a future, oh, thank God!
Of life this is so small a part;
‘Tis dust to dust beneath the sod
But there, up there, ‘tis heart to heart.