I Want Two Wings

My mama had a beautiful singing voice. She didn’t like it much because it was deep and raspy, she thought it sounded masculine. Given that she was so petite, it was amazing to hear such a deep voice from such a tiny person. She often sang spirituals when she had the blues and this was one of her favorite songs. I try to sing the songs she used to sing to Luke, though our voices are totally different. He loves knowing that I’m singing songs she used to sing to me. Of course, I don’t remember all the words, and this isn’t quite the version she used to sing. Her version contained the line, “And don’t you blow that trumpet Gabriel, until you get your orders from me,” but I can’t find that one anywhere. I guess it’s the nature of spirituals to be protean, but this one also had a role in my next book, Gabriel’s Redemption. (Yeah, my mama would be scandalized at the notion, AND secretly amused.) Do any of you know the version I’m referring to? I suppose it’s possible that I’m conflated two songs, but I don’t think so. And by the way, what determines whether a song is gospel or a spiritual? I’m hella confused.

Now yonder comes my mother
Where have you been so long?
I’ve been down in the valley to pray
And my soul got anxious in the Lord

Chorus:
Oh, I want two wings veil my face
And I want two wings fly away
Yes I want two wings veil my face
And I want two wings fly away

Now yonder comes an angel
What might be your name?
My name is Jehovah
And you must be born again

Now in that awful sea of sin
I was sinking fast
There were many things within
From my sinful past

Say, Jesus didn’t come in the morning
(when did he come?)
Neither in the heat of the day
But, he came in in the cool of the evening
And drove my sins away

ETA: The protean nature of gospel music and spirituals has definitely proven to be right in this case. Apparently the version my mama sang was an amalgam that included lyrics from a song called Ain’t No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down which was written by Brother Claude Ely:

Go down yonder Gabriel
Place your foot on the land and sea
But don’t you blow that trumpet now till you hear from me

Even more amazing is the fact that Johnny Cash recorded a cover of this song. No way can I listen to it at this hour, but you know I will most definitely be listening first thing tomorrow.

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