Oh, Mary, Don't You Weep

DESCRIPTION: "If I could I surely would Stand on the rock where Moses stood, Pharaoh's army got drowned, Oh Mary don't you weep." Verses describing the Exodus and how God cares for humanity, with the "Pharaoh's army..." chorus
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1915 (recording, Fisk University Male Quartette)
KEYWORDS: Bible religious nonballad
REFERENCES (8 citations):
BrownIII 545, "Pharaoh's Army" (4 texts, mostly short)
BrownSchinhanV 545, "Pharaoh's Army" (1 tune plus a text excerpt)
Arnold, p. 143, "Oh Ma'y Don't Cha Weep" (1 text, 1 tune)
Sandburg, pp. 476-477, "Pharaoh's Army Got Drowned" (1 short text, 1 tune)
MHenry-Appalachians, p. 200, "Pharaoh's Army Got Drownded" (1 short text, with chorus "Pharaoh's army got drowned In the deep blue sea"; it might be a separate song, but is too short to classify on its own.)
PSeeger-AFB, p. 78, "Oh, Mary Don't You Weep" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 354, "Oh, Mary, Don't You Weep" (1 text)

Roud #11823
Biddleville Quintette, "Pharoah's Army Got Drowned" (QRS 7073, 1929)
Birmingham Jubilee Singers, "Pharoah's Army Got Drowned" (Columbia 14203-D, 1927)
Carter Family, "On the Rock Where Moses Stood" (Conqueror 8693/ARC 6-11-59, 1936) (song placed here tentatively)
Leo Boswell & Merritt Smith, "Oh Mary Don't You Weep" (Supertone 2825, n.d.)
Fisk University Male Quartette, "O Mary, Don't You Weep, Don't You Mourn" (Columbia A1895, 1915)
Georgia Yellow Hammers, "Mary Don't You Weep" (Victor 20928, 1927)
Mississippi John Hurt, "Oh Mary Don't You Weep" (on MJHurt04)
Morris Family, "Oh Mary Don't You Weep" (Vocalion 5465, 1940)
Richmond Starlight Quartette, "Mary, Don't You Weep" (OKeh, unissued, 1929)
Pete Seeger, "Oh, Mary Don't You Weep" (on PeteSeeger15, 2 versions) (on PeteSeeger17); "Mary Don't You Weep" (on PeteSeeger24); "O Mary Don't You Weep" (on PeteSeeger26)
Southern Four, "Good News, Chariot's Comin'! and O Mary, Doan You Weep" (Edison 50885, 1921)
Ex-Governor Alf Taylor & his Old Limber Quartet, "Pharoah's Army Got Drownded" (Victor 19451, 1924)
Virginia Female Jubilee Singers, "O Mary, Don't You Weep, Don't You Mourn" (OKeh 4430, 1921)

cf. "Mary Wore Three Links of Chain" (floating lyrics)
cf. "Can'cha Line 'Em" (floating lyrics)
cf. "Keep Your Hand on the Plow" (floating lyrics)
cf. "Don't You Hear My Hammer Ringing" (lyrics)
cf. "Heaven and Hell" (floating lyrics)
cf. "Lord, I Never Will Come Back Here No Mo'" (floating lyrics)
cf. "Pharaoh's Host Got Lost" (Pharaoh's Army theme)
cf. "I Want to Die Like Weeping Mary" ("Mary weeping" theme)
cf. "Dark Day" (floating lyrics)
NOTES [192 words]: Although loosely based on the stories of the Exodus, there is a lot that is non-Biblical here (e.g. there is no reference in the New Testament to Mary ever wearing a chain. The closest reference I can think of is Luke 2:25, where Simeon tells Mary, "A sword will pierce your own soul too").
The reference to the "rock where Moses stood" is, I believe, to Ex. 17:5, where Moses stood on the rock and struck it to bring forth water.
Moses, according to modern interpretations, did not "smite" the Red Sea (or "Sea of Reeds"), but in Ex. 14:15 he may have stretched the staff over the sea (in Ex. 14:21, 26-27 he simply "stretched his hand over the sea"; it's worth noting that most scholars think there are two mixed accounts here, one where a wind blew the water aside and one where the waters miraculously parted).
God gave the sign of the [rain]bow in Gen. 9:13f. - RBW
In every version I've heard of this song, the word in the chorus is "drownded," not "drowned." - PJS
Same here. On the other hand, I've only heard Pop Folk sorts of versions. Of Brown's four versions, two (including the most substantial) have "drowned," two have "drowneded." - RBW
Last updated in version 4.2
File: San476

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