Good Christians all, both great and small,
  I pray you lend an ear,
And listen with attention
  While the truth I will declare;
When you hear this lamentation,
  'Twill cause you to weep and wail,
About the suffocation
  In the mines of Avondale.

On the sixth day of September,
  Eighteen sixty-nine,
Those miners all then got a call
  To go work in the mine;
But little did they think that [day]
 That death would soon prevail
Before they would return again from
The mines of Avondale.

The women and their children,
  Their hearts were filled with joy
To see their men go to their work
 Likewise every boy;
But a dismal sight in broad daylight,
  Soon made them turn pale,
When thev saw the breaker burning
  O'er the mines of Avondale.

From here and there and everywhere
  They gathered in a crowd,
Some tearing off their clothes and hair,
  And crying pout aloud;
"Get out our husbands and our sons
  Death he's going to steal
Their lives away without delat
In the mines of Avondale"

But all in vain, there was no hope
  One single soul to save,
For there is no second outlet
  From the subterranean cave.
No pen can write the awful fright
  And horror that prevailed,
Among those dying victims,
 In the mines of Avondale.

A consultation then was held.
  'Twas asked who'd volunteer
For to go down this dismal shaft
  To seek their comrades dear;
Two Welshmen brave, without dismay,
  And courage withouc fail,
Went down the shaft, without delay,
  In the mines of Avondale.

When at the bottom they arrived,
 And thought to make their way,
One of them died for want of air,
 While the other, in great dismay,
He gave a sign to hoist him up,
 To tell the dreadful tale,
That all were lost forever
 In the mines of Avondale.

Every effort then took place
  To send down some fresh air;
The men that next went down again
  They took of them good care;
And traversed through the chambers,
  And this time did not fail
In finding those dead bodies
 In the mines of Avondale.

Sixty-seven was the number
  That in a heap were found.
It seemed that they were bewailing
  Their fate underneath the ground;
They found the father with his son
  Clasped in his arms so pale.
It was a heart-rending scene
  In the mines of Avondale.

Now to conclude, and make an end,
  Their number I'll pen down-
A hundred and ten of brave strong men
  Were smothered underground ;
They're in their graves till the last day,
  Their widows may bewail,
And the orphans' cries they rend the skies
  All around through Avondale!
From Pennsylvania Songs and Legends, Korson
Collected from John J. Quinn


At just three o'clock in the morning
As the whistles gave the death sound,
One hundred brave men that were mining
Were buried alive in the ground.

O, what can we do now to save them-
To rescue their bodies at least?
O, help us, Great Father, we pray thee,
One poor soul to rescue at least.

cho; O, we ne'er cnn forget that sad morning,
     When the whistles all loudly blew;
     And the people all ran to their rescue
     To see what there they could do.

One woman stood weeping and wailing,
Her cries were heard far around;
They told her they could not be rescued
She fainted and fell to the ground.
O, Father of love and of mercy,
Protect us forever from harm,
And help us to trust thee forever,
And forever to lean on thy arm.

Soon widows and orphans were screaming
Their voices were heard far around, ,
On account of the cave-in in the morning,
Just before the break of dawn.
Great Father in Heav'n, we pray thee,
Assist us this Sabbath day
And help us to rescue our husbands
Who so lately from us passed away.

Far down in the coal mines at Pittston,
Five hundred feet underground,
There lie our sons and companions
Who were buried aiive in the ground.
But now they rest from their labors,
Their toils and trials are past,
But we hope and trust in the future
To meet them in heav'n at last.

Some sisters were left without brothers,
And mothers without a son,
And help us to say, O Father,
Not my will, but thine, be done.
Far down, far down in the coal mines
Where fathers and brothers must stay,
Till Gabriel shall blow his trumpet
On the Resurrection Day.
From Minstrels of the Mine Patch, Korson


Oh, who'll replace this old coal miner
And who will take my place below
And who will follow the trepanner
Who, dear God, when I go

And who will wield my heavy pick
That I did wield for forty years
And who will hew the black, black coal
Who, dear God, when I go

And who will ride the miners' train
That takes him to the dark coal face
Who'll take my place upon that train
Who, dear God, when I go

And who will fill the great iron tubs
And who will strain his bending back
And who will work, sweat, and ache like hell
Who, dear God, when I go

And who will cry when the roof caves in
When friends are dying all around
And who will sing the miners' hymn
Who, dear God, when I go

For forty years I've loved the mine
For forty years I've worked down there
Now who'll replace this old coal miner
When I pay God my fare
from a tape of Out of the Rain at Plowshares, 1983.


Don't go down to the quarry in the middle of the night,
'Cause you'll never come back, you'll never be right.
We lost Maggie there just last spring,
And Big Ben Johnson, he couldn't do a thing.

Big Ben Johnson made a bet with Mad Man Mike
That he could cross the quarry in the middle of the night.
He got there about half way across,
He started sinking down in the red clay moss.

Nearby standing on the tracks where the trains used to come
Was Mad Man Mike, beatin' on his drum,
Laughing out loud, eyes rolling in his head,
Standing on the tracks in Lucifer's stead.

With a long red cape and fire in his eyes,
He lifted up his hands to the midnight skies,
And the thunder start to roll, and the lightning flash wild,
And Big Ben Johnson started crying like a child.

Don't go down to the quarry, don't don't go down,
Don't go down to the quarry, don't don't go down,
Don't go down to the quarry, don't don't go down,
Down, down, down, down.

Then the earth gave a shudder and the quarry start to split,
Screaming down on Johnson to the fiery pit.
With a laugh that shivered the center of the bone,
Mad Man Mike just standing there alone.

He's calling all the people to take their turn
And fall into the pit and eternally burn.
Down, down, don't don't go down,
Down, down, down, down.

Lucifer's caught on the railroad track,
He's howling at the moon, 'cause be can't come back.
In the evening when we're sitting there in front of the fire,
We laugh at old Lucifer before we retire.

Don't go down to the quarry in the middle of the night,
'Cause you'll never come back, you'll never be right.
We lost Maggie there just last spring,
And Big Ben Johnson, he couldn't do a thing.
Performed by Peter, Paul & Mary


I keep listening for the whistle in the morning
But the mines are still; no noise is in the air.
And our children wake up hungry in the morning
For the cupboards are so empty and so bear.

And their little feet, they are so cold, they stumble
And we have to pin their  rags upon their backs.
And our homes are broken down and very humble,
And the winter wind comes pourin' through the cracks.

     Oh, it's hard to hear the hungry children crying
     When I have to hands that want to do their share.
     Oh, you rich men in the city, won't you have a little pity
     And just listen to miner's prayer?

Just beneath the frozen ground the coal is laying,
Only waiting `till we seek it from its bed.
And above the ground, each miner stands there praying
While each miner's wife bows down her weary head.

Oh, we only ask enough to clothe and feed them
And to hear the hungry children laugh and play.
Oh, if we could give these things to those who need them,
I know that would be a miner's happy day.

sung by Helen Schneyer


(Sharyn Dimmick)
The seven dwarfs still work in a technicolor mine:
They bring home gold and silver and sing in the sunshine
But the gold and the silver were a long time ago
And far from the life that the coal miners know

   It's raining cold water deep down underground
   Sometimes blood mixes with sweat running down
   The bodies are weary.  The work goes on and on
   If you were a coal miner you might never see the sun

You wash the dishes.  You sweep the floor
When he comes home at (in) evening, it's dirty once more
You hang out the curtains that never will stay white
It's a struggle with the coal dust, a struggle for the light

   And it's raining, it's pouring, the hill starts to slide
   You pack up the children, move them to the other side
   It's cleaning and struggling every day of your life
   You learn to fear (dread) the spring rains, if you are a miner's wife

Layoffs were last Monday -- Daddy's home today
"Daddy, tell us a story.  Give us something (some game) to play"
"Mommy, what's for dinner?  Can I have a dime?"
How can you see a rainbow if it's raining all the time

   And it's raining, it's pouring, the angers arise
   Gathering like thunderclouds in your parents' eyes
   "Mommy, will Daddy ever go to work again?"
   Hunger strikes like lightning; tears fall like rain

Now, shouldn't a coal miner see the sun before he's old?
And shouldn't miners' children get to dream of pots of gold?
And doesn't life owe the miner's wife a rainbow every day?
And can't the coal mine owners make the rain go away?

   'Cause it's raining, still raining; it's raining in floods
   They stand in the water and crawl through (run from) the mud
   Their health, hopes, and dreams are all washed down the drain
   Would you help a coal miner get out of the rain?
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