Others, too, have shivered the assaults of stinging winds, frostbite, and heaving lungs splicing their innards. Others have stomped feet upon icy roads, flailed their arms about them, packed rags in their gloves, and looked into the morning sky gyrating with snow-sworls. Would it ever be warm again?

How did they cope?

For some, it was music. Fortunately for us, Byron Arnold, music professor at the University of Alabama – Tuscaloosa, published An Alabama Songbook: Ballads, Folksongs, and Spirituals (1950), the culmination of decades’ work of traipsing across the state with a heavy recorder and visiting the old, the blind, the invalid, the young—those with long memories. His efforts resulted in the collection of over 500 songs; among them was the reel, Cold Frosty Morning (p. 116) that dated back to the Civil War.

Whoever composed this three-minute interlude must have known the bite of winter; its terrible beauty opens the psyche to the profundity of death-into-life; its soaring cadences express the unutterable.


Multiple instrumental versions of Cold Frosty Morning can be found on YouTube. One by Douglas Jimerson features sepia photos of Confederate troops on maneuvers.