THE FUNERAL Lyrics - Hank Williams
Review The Song (11)
Note: The corrections are numerous
Recorded by Hank Williams, Sr.
Writer: Unknown (Not Fred Rose or Hank Williams)
I was walking in Savannah past a church decayed and dim,
When slowly through the window came a plaintive funeral hymn.
And my sympathy awakened and a wonder quickly grew,
’Till I found myself envired in a little colored pew.
Out front a colored couple sat in sorrow nearly wild.
On the altar was a casket, and in the casket was a child.
I could picture him while livin', curly hair protruding lips,
I'd seen perhaps a thousand in my hurried southern trips.
Rose a sad, old colored preacher from his little wooden desk
With a manner sort of awkward and countenance grotesque.
The simplicity and shrewdness in his Ethiopian face
Showed the wisdom and ignorance of a crushed, undying race.
And he said, “Now don't be weepin’ for this pretty bit of clay,
For the little boy who lived there has done gone and run away.
He was doin' very finely and he ‘ppreciates your love,
But his sho-'nough father wanted him in that big house up above.
The Lord didn't give you that baby, by no hundred thousand miles,
He just think you need some sunshine and He lent it for awhile.
And he let you keep and love it ‘till your hearts were bigger grown,
And these silver tears you're sheddin' now is just interest on the loan.
Just think, my poor dear mourners creepin' along on sorrow’s way,
What a blessed picnic this here baby got today.
Your good fathers and good mothers crowd the little fellow round,
In the angel's tender garden of the big plantation ground.
And his eyes they brightly sparkle at the pretty things he viewed
But a tear came, and he whispered “I want my parents too”.
But then the angel's chief musicians teach that little boy a song,
Says if only they be faithful, they'll soon be comin' ‘long.
So my poor detached mourners, let your hearts with Jesus rest,
And don't go to criticizin' the One what knows the best.
He has give us many comforts, He's got the right to take away
To the Lord be praised in glory, forever let us pray.”
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The Funeral sang by Hank Williams Sr. | Reviewer: Bruce Williams | 3/13/14
I heard this song some 30 years ago. I am a Black man. I don't see racism in the song. I see the death of a child. And the observations of a man. I see love and feel a loss just for hearing the song. I feel the pain the parents must feel and the sorrow of the child not having his parents with him even in heaven. So to all that want to put any negative to the song it is a song of feeling. When I hear the part crushed undying race. I feel proud ,in the past we were hung,shot and just killed for sport. We were crushed but yet Undying. and we still live on so to me that is a line to be proud of not have anger for saying it. I still say for every thing that life have in it Hank Williams had a song to talk about it he was a great song writer. And a great artist so don't try and take away from that. For Ever Let Us Pray
Meaning of "Envire" | Reviewer: Mark | 12/30/11
The Oxford English Dictionary lists "envire" as an alternative spelling for "environ". In this case "envired" means surrounded, just as you are surrounded by your environment.
So "envired in a little colored pew" means "surrounded (by the congregation) in a little colored pew".
Dictionary definitions | Reviewer: John Henshaw | 11/25/11
I have always been a big admirer of American Country Music and in the lyrics to the Funeral by Hank Williams there is reference to the word "envired" in the first verse.
Can anyone tell me the meaning of this word as it is not recognised in any English Dictionary that I have checked.
Hank Williams | Reviewer: Mark Decker | 7/18/11
To all those who run their mouth: Hank Williams was the first "Super Star" in country music. He took lifes lessons and turned them into songs that the people could relate to, unlike the "Noise" people call country music today. It's a shame he never lived to see just how big he truly was.
Hank Williams Was Not Racist! | Reviewer: Collin | 6/9/11
He ain't racist for cryin' out loud. A black man taught him how to play the guitar. This song is not pointed towards racism. The race card is getting very old. Look at the time, everyone said those type of things. And Hank never wrote this song, this is an old song dating back to the 1800's
wisdom and ignorance | Reviewer: Cleftonefan | 11/9/09
I don't think you can analyze Hank's reference to "ignorance" by itself. First he mentions the wisdom, which is the most important word. The ignorance simply refers to the lack of formal education. Slaveowners did not want their slaves to be able to read or write, and laws making it illegal to teach them had been around since 1740.
Hank was no racist.
There is always one! About Loe Garou's comments | Reviewer: M. Jackson | 10/19/09
I've treasured this song from my youth. I've never seen it as a put down to African Americans! It's so beautiful, so touching. The word "grotesque" also means "incongruous" which means "out of place". The preacher was preparing to admonish the parents for their morning instead of their being glad that their child was in Heaven. His countenance was stern in other words instead of somber as would be expected by the family. It wasen't ugly it was just different, or out of place, from everyone elses in the church. As for the comment about the funeral being on a plantation,that's wrong. The line is actually calling Heaven a plantation, and to a slave what could be more Heavenly than to live on God's plantation? The "big plantation" as in the Original Americans calling Heaven "the Happy Hunting Ground". The song also does not call the preacher ignorant! It say's the "wisdom and ignorance" which we all have. I am very smart about some things and totally ignorant about others. Are you not? He also says they are a "crushed and undying race", that is a compliment to their strength in bearing the cross of slavery. I see these people as very dignified. But there is one in every crowd. You can search until you find racism in anything! Better to put your time to spreading the love of God.
beautiful | Reviewer: raynemayna | 8/3/09
To Lou Garou,
You can't look at it as being racist even with the "product of the times" excuse. If you think back to the times, the song was incredibly politically correct. Using "colored" instead of the N word was a very progressive way of thinking at the time. Same with "Ethiopian". I think they were trying to say African American before anyone said African American.
I'm not sure about the "simplicity and shrewdness" line but as for the "wisdom and ignorance" line; he's not calling the preacher ignorant, he's speaking to the wisdom and ignorance that comes with a loved ones passing. You learn so much from a death like that but don't understand what it means or how it could happen either.
As for the "plantation", hardly racist. If you're a southerner (like me), you know that a lot of people consider Heaven to be a version of an old farm plantation. Not slaves. Just a nice piece of land, with a nice little house, and a nice row of shade trees to escape the summer heat.
All in all, don't look at it as a racist "product of the times", look at it as progressive, in spite of the times.
Um?.... racist? | Reviewer: Lou Garou | 7/3/09
I'm sitting here listening to Hank Williams' version of this song. I understand the emotional intent of the story, but man oh man I'm just shocked at the content of these lyrics.
Ok so the dead child has "protruding lips." Fine, maybe that's just a literal observation. But a few lines later we hear that the "ignorant" preacher has a "grotesque" "Ethiopian face." Then we're treated to the sweet metaphoric image of this funeral happening as a picnic with angels on a "plantation." Holy smokes!
I've always enjoyed Hank Williams. He's got a great voice, great taste in melodies, a wise air about him, and his lyrics normally stand up for the underdog. But this song is just stopping me in my tracks a bit. I've never really considered that he could be a racist.
At the very least this song is like those old racist cartoons by Warner Brothers -- high-quality creative products produced by artists who are presumably liberal minded but who create works that are clearly expressing racist ideas. The common defense is to say they're a "product of their times."
I'm not saying Hank Williams was a racist, but this is just a bit like hearing your nice old librarian swearing her head off.
Review for Luke The Drifter's song "The Funeral" | Reviewer: Monika English | 7/8/07
This song, "The Funeral" by Luke the Drifter was an inspiration to me after my son, Jeremy Preyers, passed away suddenly from undiagnosed Addison's disease Thursday, December 27, 1990. He was my only son so you can imagine how much I was grieving until one day I decided to play the cassette of Hank Williams Sr sings Luke the Drifter and heard that song. It was the only song (or anything else for that matter) that helped me come to terms with my sons death. For that, I will ever be greatful to Hank (Luke) God Bless Him. I can now listen to it without tears in my eyes knowing that he is no longer alone because my beloved husband, Edward English, joined him Monday, November 27, 2006 in God's glorious house above.
The Funeral | Reviewer: Vicki McCorkel | 5/19/07
I have "The Funeral" on one of my Hank Williams albums but remember it, not only being sung by Hank Williams but possibly by Pat Boone titled "Steal Away" sometime during the 50's; I was around 10 years of age but that song as well as the other songs on the album made a lasting impression on me. The title of the album was "The Drifter". My daddy and I both cried while listening to the songs on that album. I still have that album, although it is very scratchy from being played so many times.
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