Oh Death (2) What is this that I can see With icy hands taking hold of me I am death and none can tell I open the door to heaven and hell Oh Death, O Death, please spare me over till another year Death oh Death, consider my age please don't take me in this stage my wealth is all at your command if you would move your icy hand Oh Death, O Death, please spare me over till another year No wealth no land No silver nor gold Nothing satisfies me but your soul Oh Death, O Death, please spare me over till another year Mother come now to my bed Put a cold towel upon my head My head is warm my feet is cold Death put his shackles on my soul Oh Death, O Death, please spare me over till another year Death oh Death please let me see If christ has turned his back on me God's children pray, His preachers preach The time of hope is out of reach Oh Death, O Death, please spare me over till another year Sarah Ogan Gunning recorded a version on her 1965 Folk Legacy album, "A Girl of Constant Sorrow": The sleeve notes (UK release on Topic Records) say: " Oh Death is found in whit e and Negro tradition from Texas to the Georgia Sea Islands and is available today in widel y contrasting settings: unaccompanied vocal solo, hillbilly duet (with guitars), bluegrass ba nd. This stark conversational piece has attracted a number of short stylized explanations whic h place the song on the lips of a dying slave beaten by a cruel plantation mistress, or on the l ips of a Kentucky hill-preacher stricken by the Lord for ignoring His call. Sarah adds an excelle nt narrative of her own: Elizabeth, her mother, used to sing this sad song while gathering herbs in the woods. One day she wandered near a concealed underground still. The moonshiners took Aunt Lizzie to be a ghost and in terrible fright abandoned the still (but only temporarily)." A similar dialogue with Death turns up in the traditional English song "Death a nd the Lady", which may be 16th century in origin. MD oct99
Thanks to Mudcat for the Digital Tradition!