Ain’t No Grave by Molly Skaggs and Claude Ely

April 13, 2021



I love the old gospel classic "Ain't No Grave."

You may have noticed that this version of the song credits two song writers.  This is because Molly Skaggs (daughter of  bluegrass great Ricky Skaggs) added some of her own lyrics to the original Claude Ely gospel classic. 

Ely was a songwriter and preacher from Virginia.  He wrote "Ain't No Graver" in 1934 when he was sick with tuberculosis. According to Ely, who was twelve at the time, his family was praying for healing and he sang the song on the spot.  Having heard that kind of prayer and written a few poems in my day, I believe him.

Years later Molly Skaggs added some of her own lyrics and made the song her own.  I love Molly's lyrics and her performance.  Which is why the lyrics I quote in the sidebar are hers:

Oh, shame is a prison as cruel as a grave. Shame is a robber and he's come to take my name.  Oh, love is my redeemer, lifting me up from the ground.  Love is the power when my freedom song is found...  - Molly Skaggs "Ain't No Grave"

I'm also partial to this part:

Oh, fear is a liar with a smooth and velvet tongue.  Fear is a tyrant, he's always telling me to run.  Oh, love is a resurrection and love is a trumpet sound.  Love is my weapon, I'm gonna take my giants down.   - Molly Skaggs "Ain't No Grave"

But I love the original  Claude Ely lyrics too because they are the heart and soul of the song.  So I've included them below:


There ain't no grave

Can hold my body down

There ain't no grave

Can hold my body down

When I hear that trumpet sound

I'm gonna rise right out of the ground

Ain't no grave

Can hold my body down

Well, I look way down the river

What do you think I see?

I see a band of angels

And they're coming after me

Ain't no grave

Can hold my body down

There ain't no grave

Can hold my body down

Well, look down yonder, Gabriel

Put your feet on the land and sea

But Gabriel, don't you blow your trumpet

Till you hear from me

There ain't no grave

Can hold my body down

Ain't no grave

Can hold my body down

Well, meet me, Jesus, meet me

Meet me in the middle of the air

And if these wings don't fail me

I will meet you anywhere

Ain't no grave

Can hold my body down

There ain't no grave

Can hold my body down

Well, meet me, mother and father

Meet me down the river road

And mama, you know that I'll be there

When I check in my load

There ain't no grave

Can hold my body down

There ain't no grave

Can hold my body down.

 

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