“I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow” by The Stanley Brothers
40 Days Of Country – Song #15 – Lent 2016
As we get deeper into our list of forty of the most influential country music songs and artists of all time, the influence of bluegrass seems to be growing. That sentiment is certainly true for The Stanley Brothers, born and raised on bluegrass music in Virginia. While the brothers were active for twenty years, from 1946 to 1966, they are perhaps best known for the song that the film, “O Brother Where Art Thou?” reintroduced to the world in 2000, “I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow.”
True to its bluegrass heritage, “Man of Constant Sorrow,” as it is also known, was first made famous by a blind fiddler from Kentucky in 1913, Dick Burnett. It was the Stanley Brothers, however, who made the song famous. The song itself is both a lament and somewhat autobiographical in nature. The lyrics mention “I bid farewell to old Kentucky, the place where I was born in raised,” as well as, “for six long years I’ve been in trouble,” (a reference to Burnett’s blindness.” As a result, the singer deems himself, “a man of constant sorrow [because] I’ve seen trouble all my days.”
A similar theme is found in Isaiah 53:3, when the prophet speaks of the “Son of Man,” or the “Suffering Messiah,” two titles most Christians associate with Jesus Christ. In Isaiah 53:3, he writes, “He was despised and avoided by others; a man who suffered (also translated “a man of sorrows”), who knew sickness well. Like someone from whom people hid their faces, he was despised, and we didn’t think about him.” Whenever we are facing trials or troubles, whenever we are up against pain and struggle, it is sometimes good to remember that our savior endured all this suffering, and even more, so that no matter what we’re going through, suffering will never have the final word in our life. Amen.
God of suffering and sorrows, never let us forget that sacrifice made by your Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross, to redeem us not only from sin and death, but from all the brokenness this life carries. We have faith that by your grace, as your Son did rise, the sun will always rise bringing hope for a better tomorrow. Amen.
(The “O Brother Where Art Thou” version is too fun not too include, enjoy!)