Are You Ready?

Matt LavenderChurch Blog

Are You Ready?

Oh how I enjoy old, acoustic guitar blues music particularly gospel blues and I would like to introduce you to one I have enjoyed learning recently.

Gospel blues is a form of music that has been around since before World War II. It’s earliest influences were “spirituals.” Spirituals were religious songs created by enslaved African Americans that combined biblical truths and stories with African rhythmical and sonic elements. Possibly the most famous spiritual would be “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” With the increased common use of the steel acoustic guitar in the 1920’s and 30’s, gospel blues became more popular. Spirituals and gospel blues were expressions of religious faith that looked forward to a time of future happiness or deliverance from present tribulation. Gospel blues often utilize repetition to get across simple yet universal truths of living in a fallen world. One particular musician who could convey these truths and emotions was Mississippi John Hurt. His version of “You’ve Got to Die” was recorded four months before his death in 1966. I would like share the link below of his version, as well as the lyrics, and some spiritual reflections.

“You’ve Got To Die” – Mississippi John Hurt (1893-1966)

“Well you just as well get ready, you’ve got to die
Oh you just as well get ready, you’ve got to die
You don’t know the minute or the hour
Just well to get ready, you’ve got to die

Yes I’m prayin to be ready, I’ve got to die
Well I’m prayin to be ready…..
Well I don’t know the minute or the hour
Prayin to be ready, I’ve got to die

Oh deacon get ready, you’ve got to die
Oh deacon get ready…..
You don’t know the minute or the hour
Deacon get ready, you’ve got to die

Oh preacher get ready, you’ve got to die, Uh oh!
Oh preacher get ready, you’ve got to die
Yes you don’t know the minute or the hour
Just well get ready, you’ve got to die”

Spiritual reflections:

  • The guitar playing has a way of lightening the mood of the lyrics, but the tone of the lyrics are somber. I am reminded that, “It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.” – Ecclesiastes 7:2
  • The lyrics are simplistic yet convey important realities we should all meditate upon:
    • Death is personal & universal
      • “I’ve got to die” and “You’ve got to die”
      • All have sinned and the wages of our sin is death (Romans 3:23 & 6:23)
    • Death respects no one
      • “Oh Deacon, Oh Preacher you’ve got to die”
      • It is appointed for mankind to die regardless of status, great or small, and regardless of spiritual condition, saved or lost (Hebrews 9:27 & Revelation 20:12)
    • Death waits for no one
      • “You don’t know the minute or the hour”
      • Life is a vapor and we are not guaranteed tomorrow (James 4:14 & Luke 12:13-21)
    • We must be ready for when death comes
      • “Prayin to be ready”
      • Lord make me know my end and the measure of my days (Psalm 39:4 & 90:12)
      • We live to the Lord, We die to the Lord (Romans 14:8)
      • Being “ready” is ultimately defined as having a personal relationship with God and the forgiveness of our sins through the finished work of Jesus Christ who gives eternal life to all who ask (Romans 6:23 & 5:10-11 & 10:9-13)

May these important truths cause us to see how fleeting life is and how much God has for us to do. May we all be reminded that our journey comes to the same end, as long as the Lord tarries, and that we should strive to live a life pointing others to the one who provides eternal life. Let us all pray to be ready for when that minute or hour comes. Are you ready?

Matt Lavender
      Matt Lavender