Mudcat Café message #2412218 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #113441   Message #2412218
Posted By: Kent Davis
13-Aug-08 - 12:19 AM
Thread Name: What murder ballad is the saddest? [songs]
Subject: RE: What murder ballad is the saddest?
Jayto,

Welcome to Mudcat and thanks for any interesting thread idea.

"O Death" is certainly chilling, as you say, but I wonder if it were ever sung at funerals. Do you know of any funerals at which it was sung? I can think of few songs less appropriate for such an occasion: thread.cfm?threadid=12846

I think you are correct that it is a traditional Appalachian song, but I can't see how it would be considered a hymn. The word "hymn" means, I believe, a song of praise or thanksgiving to God http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hymn. "O Death" is certainly not that.

As for its having been sung "before the...sin eaters did their thing", I would appreciate a reference or two, if possible. The idea that one could alter the eternal fate of someone already dead is about as unAppalachian a belief as any I've heard. In Appalachia, the traditional idea is summed up in Hebrews 9:27-28 "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." No room for sin-eaters there, just one sin-bearer and that is Christ himself.

I'm not trying to give you a hard time, just trying to question what looks to me like a bit of fakelore you've picked up. I'd be glad to stand corrected if I'm wrong about this.

Kent