“Death is a Melancholy Call”


The singer observes a young man dying as a result of a dissolute life. Both the youth and his friends are frightened by the prospect of hell. The singer concludes with a stock exhortation to repent


Many versions of this piece have the tragicomic refrain "And it's awful, awful, awful...."

Not to be confused with "Death 'Tis a Melancholy Day."

Barry wrote a study of this piece and "Wicked Polly," treating them as variants (male and female, presumably) of the same piece. The moral is of course the same, and they use the same metrical form -- but I can't see any actual dependence in the lyrics. - RBW

Cross references


  1. Laws H5, "Death is a Melancholy Call"
  2. Belden, pp. 464-465, "Death is a Melancholy Call (3 texts)
  3. Randolph 595, "The Dying Youth" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Scarborough-NegroFS, p. 95, "The Lost Youth" (1 text)
  5. DT 718, DEATHMEL
  6. Roud #655
  7. BI, LH05


Alternate titles: “Awful, Awful, Awful”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1906 (Belden)
Keywords: death farewell Hell youth
Found in: US(Ap,SE,So)