O Death

(Ralph Stanley version)

Words & Music:

Traditional American


What is this that I can see with icy hands taking hold on me?

I am Death and none can excel.  I'll open the doors to heaven and hell.



O, death. O death.  Can't you spare me over 'til another year?


O, death, someone would pray, couldn't you call some other day?

God's children prayed, the preacher preached,

The time of mercy is out of your reach,




I'll fix your feet so you can't walk.  I'll lock your jaw so you can't talk.

Close your eyes so you can't see, this very hour, come go with me.




Death, I come to take the soul, leave the body and leave it cold,

To drop the flesh off of the frame, the earth and worms both have a claim.




Mother, come to my bed, place a cold towel upon my head.

My head is warm, my feet is cold, Death is moving upon my soul.




Oh, death, how you treating me.  Close my eyes so I can't see.

You hurt my body, you make me cold, you ruined my life right out of my soul.




Oh, death, please consider my age, please don't take me at this stage,

My wealth is all at your command, if you will move your icy hand.




The old, the young, the rich or poor, all alike with me, you know;

No wealth, no land, no silver, no gold, nothing satisfies me but your soul.




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