Oh, Lord, How Long
DESCRIPTION: "Before this time another year, I may be (dead and) gone, Down in some lonesome graveyard, Oh Lord, how long!" "Just as the tree falls, just so it lies; Just as the sinner lives, just so he dies." "My mother broke the ice and gone...."
EARLIEST DATE: 1901 (Edward Harringan, "The Mulligans")
KEYWORDS: religious death family nonballad
FOUND IN: US(Ap,SE,So)
REFERENCES (6 citations):
Randolph 615, "Oh Lord, How Long!" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax/Lomax-AmericanBalladsAndFolkSongs, pp. 586-587, "Oh, Lawd, How Long?" (1 text, 1 tune)
Chase-AmericanFolkTalesAndSongs, p. 169, "Oh Lord, How Long?" (1 text, 1 tune)
Parrish-SlaveSongsOfTheGeorgiaSeaIslands, p. 220, "This Time Another Year" (1 text)
Work-FolkSongOfTheAmericanNegro, p. 52, "Before This Time Another Year" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Edward Harrigan, _The Mulligans_, G. W. Dilingham, 1901, p. 368, "(no title)" (1 fragment, of the chorus)
ST R615 (Full)
Sister L. Brown & congregation "Before This Time, Another Year" (on MuSouth09)
The Chosen Gospel Singers, "Before This Time Another Year" (Specialty 848, n.d.)
Cleveland Simmons and Mr. Taylor, "I May Be Gone" (AAFS 422 A2, 1935; on LomaxCD1822-2)
Bessie Jones and the Georgia Sea Island Singers, "Before This Time Another Year" (on LomaxCD1712, recorded 1959)
Odette & Ethel, "Befo' This Time Another Year" (Columbia 14169-D, 1926)
NOTES [120 words]: This is really a chorus with extra lyrics. Bessie Jones sang a version with irregular lines (interspersed with the phrase "how long"?), which broke into the chorus at random intervals. The Lomax text proceeds in double lines, but of different lengths. Some of the versions are regular. But the song is recognized by the chorus "Before this time another year, I may be gone...."
This is quoted as an urban New York Black song in Edward Harrigan, The Mulligans, G. W. Dilingham, 1901, p. 368:
Oh, dis time anudder year!
We may be gone!
In some lonely grabeyard!
Oh, Lor', how long!
I find it fascinating that a New Yorker who spent his life playing mostly Irish characters would be the first citation of the song. - RBW
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