Oh Mary, Don't You Weep, Don't You Mourn

Mary Don't You Weep

"Mary Don't You Weep"(alternately titled "O Mary Don't You Weep", "Oh Mary, Don't You Weep, Don't You Mourn", or variations thereof) is a Negro spiritual that originates from before the American Civil War. It tells the Biblical story of Mary of Bethany and her distraught pleas to Jesus to raise her brother Lazarus from the dead. Other narratives relate to The Exodus and the Passage of the Red Sea, with the chorus proclaiming Pharaoh's army got drown-ded!, and to God's rainbow covenant to Noah after the Great Flood. With liberation thus one of its themes, the song again become popular during the 1950s and 1960s American civil rights movement.

The first recording of the song was by the Fisk Jubilee Singers in 1915, while the most known recording was by The Swan Silvertones in 1962. Many other recordings have been made, by artists ranging from The Soul Stirrers to Burl Ives. Pete Seeger gave it additional folk music visibility by performing it at the 1964 Newport Folk Festival. An a cappella version by Take 6, simply called "Mary", received wide airplay after appearing on the group's eponymous debut album in 1988. The song is sung briefly at the beginning of the music video for Bone Thugs N Harmony's 1996 "Tha Crossroads". In a pounding big group folk arrangement, it was one of the highlights of the 2006 Bruce Springsteen with The Seeger Sessions Band Tour. Perhaps the most widely known version, however, is sang by the vocal gospel group The Caravans, with Inez Andrews as the lead singer.

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