AN AMAZING FACT: In 1859, Daniel Emmett, a New York minstrel man, wrote a catchy song that swept across the country. It was based on some words and music he had once heard slaves singing in the Carolinas. These slaves had sung of a happy place called “Dixieland,” and so Emmett called his song “Dixie.” It was an immediate success.
Later, during the Civil War, the stirring strains of “Dixie” became the official song of the Southern Confederacy. In fact, the word “Dixie” became a synonym for the Southern United States. But what Emmett and the Confederacy never knew was that the “Dixieland” which the slaves were singing so longingly about was not even in the South, but was actually in New York, just a short distance from where Emmett wrote his famous song.
As the story goes, years earlier a Dutch farmer in Manhattan tried to grow tobacco on the New York island. This was before the abolition of slavery in the North, so he brought in slaves from Africa to help him work the land, but his farm proved a failure. Reluctantly, he had to sell the slaves to a plantation in Charleston, and it was there in South Carolina that the word “Dixieland” was first used in song.
It is said that the Dutch farmer for whom the slaves worked in Manhattan had been a kind, jolly, and generous man, and the slaves often wished they could be back on his farm. So they would sing: “I wish I was in Dixieland” … because the name of that kind Dutch farmer was Johann Dixie. So, ironically, the song “Dixieland” was originally not about sweet memories of the South but rather a farm in New York City.
Friends, did you know that when the Bible speaks of the patriarchs’ yearning for a place in Canaan land, it has nothing to do with the nation of Israel? Anyone who lives for God and embraces His promises looks forward to a better land—His heavenly kingdom. His Word promises that “He has prepared a city” for those who love Him (Hebrews 11:16).
KEY BIBLE TEXTS
And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. Hebrews 11:15But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.Hebrews 11:16