J. Boo
J. Boo asked:

I've seen that the title is from a spiritual, perhaps beginning "Pale Horse, Pale Rider/ done take my true love away". But I've never found the lyrics. Does anyone have them?

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Brendan It's possible the song was never recorded or written down. Miranda (a lightly fictionalized Porter) and her boyfriend Adam both claim to have heard black men sing it in Texas in the oil and cotton fields, probably around the turn of the century, and even they have trouble remembering the lyrics. But here is what they do remember:

"'There's a lot more to it than that,' said Adam, 'about forty verses, the rider done taken away mammy, pappy, brother, sister, the whole family besides the lover —'

'But not the singer, not yet,' said Miranda. 'Death always leaves one singer to mourn. "Death,"' she sang, '"oh, leave me one singer to mourn—"'"

It's also possible, and I don't know if there's any scholarship on this, that Porter made the song up herself.
Penn Hackney It's from Revelation 6:7-8, in the King James Version thus:

7 And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.

8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
Mimi I look on YouTube today, 4/5/2020, and did not find any recorded version of the song referenced in the story.
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