Weepin' Mary, 1917. Harry Thacker Burleigh, 1866-1949. Music Division, Library of Congress. Call number: M1671.W
Burleigh's brief setting of Weepin' Mary was published in 1917 in versions for solo voice and women's chorus by G. Ricordi & Co., New York. The women's chorus version was arranged by Nathaniel Clifford Page (1866-1956). Only thirty-one measures in length, the setting is a quiet, introspective piece in AAB form. The text is a commentary on a biblical passage: "But Mary stood without at the sepulcher weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulcher" (John 20:11).
Burleigh's setting is austere in its unvaried, quarter-note/half-note rhythm. His harmonic inventiveness is, therefore, all the more telling against such a simple backdrop. After setting the first phrase in diatonic triads in F minor, he repeats that phrase with subtle chromaticisms and one bold progression on "Call upon your Jesus, an' He'll draw near." On the word "Jesus," Burleigh moves from an F-minor chord directly to a G-flat-augmented chord to create a powerful, expressive dissonance.