Beulah Land: A Song of the Plains

Beulah Land: A Song of the Plains

I learned to appreciate this song through the writing and singing of Bill Koch, the legendary folklorist from Kansas State University. He had collected versions from all over the plains--"Kansas Land," "Dakota Land," "Montana Land," you name it. The song is the secular localization of the Methodist hymn, "Beulah Land." The song has variant versions not only according to place but also reflecting the times, making any given place on the plains the land of "corn and wheat" or of "drought and heat." There are no end of variations, because the song was so well known and so easy to compose stanzas for. I found one set of stanzas in my grandmother's ballad book.

I sing a selection of verses culled from several sources in order to show how the song evolved through space and time. Somehow people in North Dakota think the verse about Saskatchewan is hilarious, and I think it's funny they think it's funny.

Beulah Land
I've reached the land of corn and wheat,
Of pumpkin pies and potatoes sweet.
I bought my farm from Uncle Sam,
And now I'm happy as a clam.

Oh, Kansas Land, sweet Kansas Land,
As on the highest hill I stand,
I look the pleasant landscape o'er,
For acres broad I'll sigh no more,
Till Gabriel's trump, in loud command,
Says I must leave my Kansas Land.
My chickens, they are Plymouth Rock,
My horses, Clydesdale Norman stock,
My cattle, Durham, very fine,
And Poland China are my swine.

Dakota Land, Dakota Land,
As on the highest hill I stand,
I look the pleasant landscape o'er,
For acres broad I'll sigh no more,
Till Gabriel's trump, in loud command,
Says I must leave Dakota Land.
Saskatchewan, the land of snow,
Where winds are always on the blow,
Where people sit with frozen toes--
And why we stay here, no one knows.

Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan,
There's no place like Saskatchewan.
We sit and gaze across the plains,
And wonder why it never rains,
Till Gabriel doth his trumpet sound,
And says the rain has gone around.