Shaker Funeral Hymn
DESCRIPTION: "Our brother's gone, he is no more, He's quit our coast, he's left our shore, He's burst the bonds of mortal clay, The spirit's fled and soars away." All alike are told to be prepared; the righteous will triumph over death
EARLIEST DATE: 1822 (George DeWitt Hymnal, according to Andrews)
KEYWORDS: religious nonballad death
FOUND IN: US
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Lomax-FolkSongsOfNorthAmerica 38, "Shaker Funeral Hymn" (1 text, 1 tune)
ADDITIONAL: Edward Deming Andrews, _The Gift to be Simple: Songs, Dances and Rituals of the American Shakers_, 1940 (references are to the 1962 Dover reprint), p. 102, "Funeral Hymn" (1 text, 1 tune)
NOTES [303 words]: The song's final reference to the sting of death and the victory of the grave is a reference to 1 Corinthians 15:55 (itself citing Hosea 13:14 as it occurs in the Greek Old Testament).
The citation exactly matches the King James Version of 1 Corinthians -- which, however, is translated from an inferior Greek text. The earliest Greek manuscripts read "Where, O death, is your victory; where, O death, is your sting"; another important group reads "Where, O death, is your sting, where, O Hades [i.e. "grave"], is your victory"; still a third has "Where, O death, is your sting; where, O death, is your victory."
If anyone actually cares about these things, the reading victory... death... sting is supported by P46 [second or third century], by the great fourth century Vatican manuscript B, by the first hand of the fourth century Sinai manuscript ℵ, by C of the fifth century, and by the first hand of the major manuscript 1739, as well as many Latin texts; the so-called "Western" manuscripts D F G, from the sixth century and after, read sting... death.... victory; several interesting manuscripts of the ninth and tenth centuries, with the symbols 0121 0243 33 and the second hand of 1739, read victory... hades... sting; the King James reading sting... hades... victory is read by probably at least 90% of all manuscripts, but the earliest appear to be the seventh century correctors of the Sinai and Alexandrian manuscripts, which are regarded as being of little value.
The Greek of Hosea reads something like Where, O death, is your punishment (Greek δικη, dik-e; "victory" is νικη, nik-e), Where, O Hades, is your sting. This is not too far from the Hebrew, which is very difficult (several editors emend it) but seems to mean something like Where, O Death, are your plagues, Where, O Sheol, your ravages. - RBW
Last updated in version 5.0
Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography
The Ballad Index Copyright 2022 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.