“Oh, Mary, Don't You Weep”


"If I could I surely would Stand on the rock where Moses stood, Pharaoh's army got drowned, Oh Mary don't you weep." Verses describing the Exodus and how God cares for humanity, with the "Pharaoh's army..." chorus


Although loosely based on the stories of the Exodus, there is a lot that is non-Biblical here (e.g. there is no reference in the New Testament to Mary ever wearing a chain. The closest reference I can think of is Luke 2:25, where Simeon tells Mary, "A sword will pierce your own soul too").

The reference to the "rock where Moses stood" is, I believe, to Ex. 17:5, where Moses stood on the rock and struck it to bring forth water.

Moses, according to modern interpretations, did not "smite" the Red Sea (or "Sea of Reeds"), but in Ex. 14:15 he may have stretched the staff over the sea (in Ex. 14:21, 26-27 he simply "stretched his hand over the sea"; it's worth noting that most scholars think there are two mixed accounts here, one where a wind blew the water aside and one where the waters miraculously parted).

God gave the sign of the [rain]bow in Gen. 9:13f. - RBW

In every version I've heard of this song, the word in the chorus is "drownded," not "drowned." - PJS

Same here. On the other hand, I've only heard Pop Folk sorts of versions. Of Brown's four versions, two (including the most substantial) have "drowned," two have "drowneded." - RBW

Cross references


  • Biddleville Quintette, "Pharoah's Army Got Drowned" (QRS 7073, 1929)
  • Birmingham Jubilee Singers, "Pharoah's Army Got Drowned" (Columbia 14203-D, 1927)
  • Leo Boswell & Merritt Smith, "Oh Mary Don't You Weep" (Supertone 2825, n.d.)
  • Fisk University Male Quartette, "O Mary, Don't You Weep, Don't You Mourn" (Columbia A1895, 1915)
  • Georgia Yellow Hammers, "Mary Don't You Weep" (Victor 20928, 1927)
  • Morris Family, "Oh Mary Don't You Weep" (Vocalion 5465, 1940)
  • Richmond Starlight Quartette, "Mary, Don't You Weep" (OKeh, unissued, 1929)
  • Pete Seeger, "Oh, Mary Don't You Weep" (on PeteSeeger15, 2 versions) (on PeteSeeger17); "Mary Don't You Weep" (on PeteSeeger24); "O Mary Don't You Weep" (on PeteSeeger26)
  • Southern Four, "Good News, Chariot's Comin'! and O Mary, Doan You Weep" (Edison 50885, 1921)
  • Ex-Governor Alf Taylor & his Old Limber Quartet, "Pharoah's Army Got Drownded" (Victor 19451, 1924)
  • Virginia Female Jubilee Singers, "O Mary, Don't You Weep, Don't You Mourn" (OKeh 4430, 1921)


  1. BrownIII 545, "Pharaoh's Army" (4 texts, mostly short)
  2. Sandburg, pp. 476-477, "Pharaoh's Army Got Drowned" (1 short text, 1 tune)
  3. MHenry-Appalachians, p. 200, "Pharaoh's Army Got Drownded" (1 short text, with chorus "Pharaoh's army got drowned In the deep blue sea"; it might be a separate song, but is too short to classify on its own.)
  4. PSeeger-AFB, p. 78, "Oh, Mary Don't You Weep" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Silber-FSWB, p. 354, "Oh, Mary, Don't You Weep" (1 text)
  7. Roud #11823
  8. BI, San476


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1915 (recording, Fisk University Male Quartette)
Found in: US