Weeping Mary

Come unto me, all you who that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you.  (Matt. 11:28)
So, we are two plus weeks into this joyous season of Easter! Are any of you weary of trying to live into joy already? Is it too much? 
Are any of you experiencing a disconnect with the season because of personal grief or disappointment?
Are any of you struggling with illness, family issues, job woes?
I was listening the other day to one of my favorite CDs – Rivers of Delight by the Word of Mouth Chorus, published by the Nonesuch label in 1979. It’s a collection of American folk hymns sung in the Sacred Harp (shape note) tradition, which is still available via iTunes or streaming from various on-line sites.  One song in particular has always arrested me – an arrangement of Weeping Mary, which goes like this:
Are there anybody here like Mary a-weeping
Call to my Jesus and he’ll draw nigh
Glory glory glory glory 
Glory be to my God on high
Are there anybody here like Peter a-sinkin’
Call to my Jesus and he’ll draw nigh
Glory glory glory glory 
Glory be to my God on high
Are there anybody here like Jailers a-tremblin
Call to my Jesus and he’ll draw nigh
Glory glory glory glory 
Glory be to my God on high
Life is funny, isn’t it? In the midst of joy, there is sorrow and pain, and in the midst of grief we sometimes get a glimpse of glory.  That’s pretty much how it always goes.
And so, are there anybody here who are grieving and sorrowing even though it’s Easter? Let it come – make space in your life to let your sorrow wash over you and don’t feel the need to put on a brave face. Allow yourself to feel your grief. If we can’t be authentic during this season of resurrection, when on earth can we be authentic? Resurrection is all around as spring springs forth and alleluias ring, but we still remember the death and sorrow that comes before it. 
Music is the place I go to guide me into the depths of emotion I need to experience, especially when I feel out of step with the world around me.  I invite you to do the same. Pull out something to listen to that allows you to deeply feel your trouble so that when you are ready, you will be able to see the hope at the end of the dark and feel the refreshment that the Lord offers to renew our weary hearts. 
-Penny Nash

8 thoughts on “Weeping Mary

  1. Millie

    How timely, Penny. God’s timing is amazing. We have been so tragically reminded this week that in the midst of life there is death. But also, in the midst of death resurrection. “My song is live unknown” and “When I survey the wondrous cross” are running through my mind and out my lips.

  2. Sheldon Curry

    Lovely thoughts, Penny. Patchwork feelings in a joyous season, like WWII soldiers singing Christmas carols before and after mortal combat.

    The juxtaposition of horror and hymns wants warning signage that says “Caution – Faith At Work”.

  3. Lenora

    I love old spirituals and gospel music for exactly the purpose you write about, moving from sorrow to acceptance, and sometimes outright joy. The song I love at the moment, is “Mary Don’t Weep” and the version I listen to is Aretha Franklin’s Amazing Grace, the Complete Recordings. The album was recorded live with the Southern California Gospel Choir and Aretha on the organ.
    My mother died almost ten years ago, the Sunday after Easter, I was just past thirty, an only child. It was a prolonged painful death. It was hard to take in the joy of resurrection, I understand intellectually but feeling it in my heart is sometimes hard.
    My mother listened to Mahaliah Jackson in sorrowful times, her favorite was the song “How I Got Over.” It was too hard to listen to that album for a long time, so I found this album. The refrain from the song is “Mary don’t you weep, tell Martha not to moan.” The S.C. Choir is amazing, they are upbeat singing this refrain. It is sung as a call and repeat. I can’t help feeling joyous when I sing along.

    Now after ten years of healing, I can sing along to Mahaliah Jackson’s, “How I got over, how I got over, you know my soul’s back in wonder, how I made it over.”

    1. Millie

      Lenora, you have gifted me with the sharing of your journey. Thank you. Mahaliah and Aretha both inspire me deeply. You have given me a yearning to listen to their recordings of these spirituals.

  4. Barbara

    I couldn’t agree more. For me, the Great Church Year always has something to say, no matter what season I’m in in my own life. Easter (and every other season) has as much to offer in sorrow as it does in joy.

    It took me awhile to learn this, actually; at first sometimes I did avoid certain feasts or fasts depending on what was going on in my life. But then I started really listening, and realized that … well, there’s always something important there. Sometimes, in fact, I heard something I might have missed otherwise.

    This past Sunday the hymn that moved me was “Come, risen Lord, and deign to be our guest”; such a beautiful text. And actually, hymns like the one Millie mentions, “My Song is Love Unknown,” are amazingly good at expressing the Holy Week life-in-death (or is it death-in-life?) condition. Perhaps this is just what Christian faith is.

    Anyway, thanks for a good post. Blessed Easter….

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