The Fatal Wedding by Gussie L. Davis

Gussie DavisOne of the older ladies from the church attend turned me on to this song. It was one her mother used to sing to her when she was a little girl. I looked it up on the internet. It was written in the late 1800’s by a black man that wrote a number successful songs which white people would then record. I am not really sure how the melody of the song is supposed to go, so I just made it up. I do believe it is one of the saddest songs I have ever heard.

The (G) wedding bells were ringing on a (C) moonlit winter’s night
The (G) church was decorated, all with (D) in was gay and bright.
A (G) woman with a baby came and (C) saw the lights aglow,
She (G)thought of how those same bells chimed for (D) her three years (G)ago.

I’d (G)like to be admitted, sir, she (C) told the sexton old
Just (G) for the sake of baby to pro(D)tect him from the cold.
He (G)told her that the wedding was (C)for the rich and grand,
And (G)with the eager watching crowd, (D)outside she’d have to (G)stand.


(D)While the wedding bells were ringing,
While the (C) bride and groom were (G)there,
(D)Marching up the aisle together,
While the (C)organ pealed an (G)air;

And (D) tales of fond affection,
Vowing (C)never more to (G)part,
Just another fatal wedding,
Just (D)another broken (G)heart.

She (G)asked the sexton once again to (C)let her pass inside.
“For (G)baby’s sake you may step in,” the (D)gray-haired man replied
“If (G)any one knows reason why this (C)couple should not wed,
(G)Speak now, or forever hold your peace:” (D) is what the preacher (G)said!

“I (G)must object,” the woman cried, with (C)voice so meek and mild
“The (G)bridegroom is my husband, sir, and (D)this our little child.”
“What (G)proof have you?” the preacher said. (C)”My infant,” she replied
She (G)raised her babe, then knelt to pray, the (D)little one had (G)died.

The (G) parents of the bride then took the (C)outcast by the arm.
“We’ll (G)care for you through life,” they said, “you’ve (D)saved our child from harm.”
The (G)outcast wife, the bride and parents, (C)quickly drove away,
The (G) husband died by his own hand, (D)before the break of (G)day!

No (D)wedding feast was spread that night, two (C)graves were made next (G) day
(D)One for the little baby, and in (C)one the father (G)lay.
The (G)story has been often told, by (C)firesides warm and bright,
Of (G) bride and groom, of outcast, and that (D) fatal wedding (G)night.

From Southern F

Collected from Gertrude Ladnier Crooks, Alabama, 1947
Note: A pop tune from the 1880’s or 1890’s; Gussie Davis (who also wrote
Maple on the Hill and The Baggage Coach Ahead) was a black who wrote
“white” music. Brad Kincaid recorded it. RG


About Ken Sayers

I’m just a man on a journey somewhere between Heaven and Hell. I seek acceptance and meaning in life just like everyone else.
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