♪O Death – Ralph Stanley/ Bessie Jones and Georgia Sea Island Singers

O, Death
O, Death

Won’t you spare me over til another year
Well what is this that I can’t see
With ice cold hands takin’ hold of me
Well I am death, none can excel
I’ll open the door to heaven or hell
Whoa, death someone would pray
Could you wait to call me another day
The children prayed, the preacher preached
Time and mercy is out of your reach
I’ll fix your feet til you cant walk
I’ll lock your jaw til you cant talk
I’ll close your eyes so you can’t see
This very air, come and go with me
I’m death I come to take the soul
Leave the body and leave it cold
To draw up the flesh off of the frame
Dirt and worm both have a claim

O, Death
O, Death

Won’t you spare me over til another year
My mother came to my bed
Placed a cold towel upon my head
My head is warm my feet are cold
Death is a-movin upon my soul
Oh, death how you’re treatin’ me
You’ve close my eyes so I can’t see
Well you’re hurtin’ my body
You make me cold
You run my life right outta my soul
Oh death please consider my age
Please don’t take me at this stage
My wealth is all at your command
If you will move your icy hand
Oh the young, the rich or poor
Hunger like me you know
No wealth, no ruin, no silver no gold
Nothing satisfies me but your soul

O, Death
O, Death

Wont you spare me over ’til another year
Wont you spare me over ’til another year
Wont you spare me over ’til another year

 

In voudun there are gods and demigods of death and of the cemetery who come to the dancing
ground and possess some of their worshipers; now vehicles through which the deities can communicate
with mortals, the possessed advise, gossip, eat, dance, and socialize with the congregants.
Thus Bessie Jones’s dramatic dialogue between Death and the reluctant sinner might just as well
have its roots in an African tradition as in the popular religious poems and dramas of medieval
Europe in which death was so frequently personified.
Chorus
O Death in the mornin’, (3 times)
Spare me over another year.
Well, Death walked up into the sinner’s gaze,
Says, “B’lieve you have waited now a little too late,
Your fever now is one hundred and two,
Have a narrow chance if you ever pull through.”
(Chorus)
He cried, “O Death,”
Cryin’, “O Death in the mornin’,
O Death,
Death, spare me over in another year.
Hey, what is this I see,
Cold, icy hands all over me?
You say, “I am Death, no one can excel,
I span the doors of Death and Hell.”
(Chorus)
11
“No, you heard God’s people sing and pray,
You would not heed, you just walked away,
You would not even bend your knee,
Now you got to come and go with me.
(Chorus)
“Well, I’m gon’ fix your feet so you cannot walk,
‘M fix your tongue where you cannot talk,
Close your eyes and you cannot see,
And you got to come and go with me.”
(Chorus)
“Well, Death, consider my age,
And do not take me in this stage,
Because all of my wealth is at your command,
If you’ll just move your cold, icy hand.”
(Chorus)
He cried, “No no,
O Death in the mornin’,
No no,
Lord, spare me over in another year.”

– Alan Lomax

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