Oh Mary Don't You Weep - Chords, Lyrics and Origins

Origins

Oh Mary Don't You Weep, sometimes known simply as "Mary, Don't You Weep" is an African-American spiritual, a 'slave song'. The Mary of the title is Mary of Bethany.  Why is she mourning?  For her brother Lazarus, whom Jesus is about to raise from the dead.  The song features a collection of biblical allusions: as the enslaved Israelites are escaping from Egypt God parts the Red Sea to let them pass, but when the pursuing Egyptian try to cross the seas close over them.  Hence, "Pharoah's army got drownded".  The Israelites are free and, albeit after forty years in the wilderness, they will find their promised land.  And after the great flood Noah is given, "the rainbow sign" that tells him that the waters are abaiting, and that a reborn world awaits him.

Clearly the song focuses on the drama of achieving freedom and the promise of a better time to come - of rebirth.  It's difficult to escape the conclusion that these themes are embedded in its origin as a slave song.  They also made it popular again during the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, when it was performed by folk singers such as Pete Seeger.  Oh Mary Don't You Weep was included in Bruce Springsteen's 2006 album, 'We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions".  Its minor chords give it a plaintive tone that contrasts with the apparent optimism of the words.

Chords

Capo at 3rd Fret


Verse

Em                       B7

Well if I could I surely would

                                            Em
Stand on the rock where Moses stood;


Am                              Em
Pharaoh's army got drownded -

B7                           Em
O Mary don't you weep.





Chorus

Em                          B7

O Mary don't you weep, don't mourn,

                                Em
O Mary don't you weep, don't mourn,

Am                              Em
Pharaoh's army got drownded -

B7                           Em
O Mary don't you weep.

Lyrics

Well if I could I surely would
Stand on the rock where Moses stood;
Pharaoh's army got drownded -
O Mary don't you weep.

O Mary don't you weep, don't mourn,
O Mary don't you weep, don't mourn,
Pharaoh's army got drownded -
O Mary don't you weep.

Well Mary wore three links and chains -
On every link was Jesus' name;
Pharaoh's army got drownded -
O Mary don't you weep.

O Mary don't you weep, don't mourn,
O Mary don't you weep, don't mourn,
Pharaoh's army got drownded -
O Mary don't weep.

Well one of these nights bout 12 o'clock
This old world is gonna rock;
Pharaoh's army got drownded -
O Mary don't you weep.

Well Moses stood on the Red Sea shore,
Smote' the water with a two by four;
Pharaoh's army got drownded -
O Mary don't you weep

O Mary don't you weep, don't mourn,
O Mary don't you weep, don't mourn;
Pharaoh's army got drownded -
O Mary don't you weep.

Well old Mr. Satan, he got mad,
Missed that soul that he thought he had;
Pharaoh's army got drownded -
O Mary don't you weep.

Brothers and sisters don't you cry -
There'll be good times by and by;
Pharaoh's army got drownded -
O Mary don't weep.

Well oh Mary don't you weep, don't mourn,
O Mary don't you weep, don't mourn,
Pharaoh's army got drownded -
O Mary don't you weep.

O Mary don't you weep, don't mourn,
O Mary don't you weep, don't mourn;
Pharaoh's army got drownded -
O Mary don't weep.

God gave Noah the rainbow sign;
"No more water but fire next time";
Pharaoh's army got drownded -
O Mary don't you weep.

O Mary don't you weep, don't (you) mourn,
O Mary don't you weep, don't (you) mourn,
Pharaoh's army got drownded -
O Mary don't weep.

Other American Folk Songs
Other Traditional Folk Songs