I Want to Die Like Weeping Mary
DESCRIPTION: The leader starts "I want to die like weepin' Mary," and the response to that and all other lines is "'side my Jesus." The leader continues "side by side," "any way," "sit 'side"
EARLIEST DATE: 1983 (McIntosh1)
KEYWORDS: death Bible nonballad religious Jesus
FOUND IN: US(SE)
Lucille Holloway and the McIntosh County Shouters, "I Want to Die Like Weepin' Mary" (on McIntosh1)
cf. "Oh, Mary, Don't You Weep" ("Mary weeping" theme)
NOTES: Mary weeping is in John 20:11-12: "But Mary [Magdalene] stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain" (King James).
On the other hand, discounting the explicit reference to weeping, the reference could be to one of the other two Marys. At the crucifixion, "Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene" (John 19:25, King James). So Ramey -- looking at "Oh, Mary, Don't You Weep" -- believes it is Mary the mother of Jesus who weeps (Lauri Ramey, "The Theology of the Lyric Tradition in SAfrican American Spirituals" in Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol. 70, No. 2 (Jun 2002 (available online by JSTOR)), p. 360).
There is no mention of either Mary's death in the Bible. What stories about that were current in the Sea Islands? - BS
[To make matters worse, there is much dispute about how many women were at the foot of the cross, because the four gospels give different lists. All, of course, were considered saints, and all had legends told about them:
* Mary mother of Jesus (John 19:25): Taken up bodily into heaven.
* Mary Magdalene (Matthew 27:56, Mark 15:40f.; John 19:25): Equated (surely falsely) with Mary of Bethany, and often said to have gone with Martha and Lazarus of Bethany (in this legend, her brother and sister) to evangelize Provence, where she died after a long life of prayer. In the east, where the equation with Mary of Bethany was less clear, there is a legend she died in Ephesus
* Mary the mother of James and Joses/Joseph (Matthew 27:56, Mark 15:40, Luke 8:3): usually identified with one of the other Marys, so there are few explicit legends about her
* Mary the wife of Clopas (John 19:25; the grammar does not make it clear whether she is the sister of the Virgin Mary or someone else; the KJV spelling "Cleophas" is a textual corruption): Again, usually identified with one of the other Marys.
Matthew 17:56 says the mother of the sons of Zebedee was also there, but does not give her a name, unless she is also the mother of James and Joses. Mark 15:40 also lists Salome. Luke 24:10 lists Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary Mother of Jesus were the ones who came to the empty tomb.
Nor is the foot of the cross the only place where a Mary weeps. "Weeping" could refer either to Mary Magdalene, who wept at Jesus's grave, or Mary of Bethany, who washed Jesus's feet with her hair in John 11:2, 12:3 and is equated with the sinner who washed Jesus's feet in Luke 7:38fff.
Bottom line: There were plenty of legends floating around from a very early date about how a weeping Mary died, but since they were non-Biblical, we cannot say if they are the legends the song refers to. - RBW]
Last updated in version 4.1
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 2016 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.