Give Me The Roses While I Live

Give Me The Roses While I Live

I grew up hearing the old song Give Me The Roses While I live. Most folks associate the song with The Carter Family. Sometimes AP Carter is even given credit for writing the song, but James Rowe wrote the words and R.H. Cornelius came up with the tune.

In The Bluegrass Gospel Songbook Wayne Erbsen has this to say about the song:

James Rowe, who wrote the lyrics of “Give Me The Roses Now” was perhaps the most prolific gospel lyricist of all time. By his own guess, he wrote the lyrics to over 20,000 songs. If we take him at his word and then knock off 90% of them, that’s still 2000 songs, no mean accomplishment! His other gospel classics include “If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again” and “Love Lifted Me.” An Englishman by birth, Rowe made his home in New York State but eventually moved to Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, to work with James D. Vaughan. Not to take anything away from James Rowe, but he wrote only lyrics not melodies. For “Give Me The Roses Now” he collaborated in 1925 with R.H. Cornelius. It was first recorded in Camden, New Jersey by The Carter Family on June 17, 1933. Artists who have recorded it include Jimmy Martin, Ralph Stanley, and Wayne Erbsen. It is sometimes called “Give Me The Roses While I live.”

You can hear Pap and Paul’s version of the old song below.

Hope you enjoyed the song-I especially like the harmony!

For folks who can pick up the station, Wayne Erbsen hosts a Sunday night radio show on WCQS called Country Roots which is dedicated to bluegrass and old time country music. You can go here to see the details: WCQS Country Roots.

Back in the day when I lived in the Canton area of Western NC, I would tune into Mr. Erbsen’s show on Sunday nights and feel a little less homesick as I listened to the music. Once I even got to hear Pap and Paul live on his show.

As me and The Deer Hunter sat and listened to the show, I remember thinking how after it was over Pap and Paul would be driving by Canton on the interstate making their way home to Brasstown in the dark.



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  • Reply
    July 15, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    Mom must have heard this song growing up in Salem & Roanoke VA among family members from Pike Co, KY, but I never heard it ‘til now. But Mom sure was emphatic in telling me & Dad & anyone else who’d listen to bring her flowers while she could still smell ‘em!!

  • Reply
    July 28, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    I just love hearing those guys sing! I haven’t had time to stop and listen much lately. I miss it and I’m glad I got to stop in awhile today.

  • Reply
    Judy Mincey
    July 10, 2012 at 8:06 am

    Sacred Harp singers know this as page 340 “Odem”, a favorite for funerals and sung at most big conventions. A bit different, but same sentiment. Don’t wait to say, “I love you. You are important in my life.”

  • Reply
    susie swanson
    July 9, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    This brought tears to my eyes..They do such a great job as usual on this.. My mama loved this brings back alot of memories..Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    July 8, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    One of my mother’s favorite sayings-guess I better get busy & order some roses!

  • Reply
    July 8, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    I loved the song by Pap and Paul. I heard it so many times. I have done so many dumb things in my life. So many things I wish I could do over but, Me as well as my entire family have never failed to give “The Roses” to one another while we could. We were probably the most sickening bunch you would have ever met. I have no regrets and make no apologies for letting my people know just how much I loved them. As a result, I never had to stand looking into a coffin trying to tell any of my people that I had forgotten to tell them how much I always loved them; they knew.

  • Reply
    July 8, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    The boys did a great job on that
    old song of meaning. I love the
    old tunes best.
    And I think a gentle hug is worth
    all the words you can muster…Ken

  • Reply
    July 8, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    I remember this song…this brings back good memories!

  • Reply
    dolores barton
    July 8, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    So beautiful! I love roses, too! I have a few rose plants I take care of in my gardens. Seeing them bloom is just a wonder of beauty for me.

  • Reply
    Stephen Ammons
    July 8, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    If you would please get this message to Jim Casada yes the church him and I were talking about are the same.The names Louada and Betsy Brown do not ring a bell but does have me curious. I went to Swain County High School class of 71-72. If he could give me more info on these people either me or Ed will be more than happy to do a more detailed search.If you wish you may give him my email and thanks again for the music.

  • Reply
    B. ruth
    July 8, 2012 at 9:57 am

    I haven’t heard that song in years…My grandmother loved that song. Sending me on a guilt trip that I am sure she didn’t mean toward me…it was just her way…It made a difference in my way of thinking back then and I was only a child…Still, I fight a defensive attitude at times, sometimes the world is so rude, but…
    I am a big believer in giving flowers while one can see them in this life, or do just little things that the one living may enjoy…
    It may not always please that person, but it makes me feel good inside to think that they might enjoy a “lift for the day”…
    Oh, I wish I could have given the world to some, but have not the ability or funds…but you know it’s the little things that count in this world, even to a kind word..and/or a thank you for them being in your life…a’liken to “I love you”. Say that to a stranger and see what happens! LOL
    We are all connected in some way and will come to the realization why certain things happen and why we meet up with certain people here on earth. We will eventually be enlightened to “why” those meetings and changes took place after death. If one thinks real hard sometimes one realizes later in life, the reasoning behind changes and decisions early in their own life…I keep trying as best I can to give the roses while I am alive…even if it just a tiny
    Thanks Tipper, Have a good day, and great post..thanks to Pap and Paul, as you said, great harmony..

  • Reply
    July 8, 2012 at 9:53 am

    It so strange how the timing of this post was written… July 8th is the day I lost both my parents in an auto accident. I had just bought them a Carter Family cassette. I searched the world over for that tape and finally had a record store order it for me. That was before the internet put everything at our fingertips. I remember how excited they were that I was able to find the tape.
    I’m almost certain “Give Me The Roses While I Live” was on there. When the coroner handed me that tape along with their other possessions, he told us the tape was still playing when he arrived at the accident. I often think about how much enjoyment the few dollars I spent on that music gave them.
    Pap and Paul’s version of the song is as good as any I have ever heard. Seems like I remember hearing The Stanley Brothers sing it. We listened to a lot of their music growing up. One of them is the father of my twin first cousins.

  • Reply
    Karen Larsen
    July 8, 2012 at 9:41 am

    What a beautiful song and the lyrics and sentiments are right on! Telling and showing our loved ones that we love them while they live is what is important. Many of us assume our loved ones know we love them, but it’s important to tell them!

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    July 8, 2012 at 9:07 am

    Good job by Pap and Paul, and I especially like the connection to your memory of them passing nearby when you were in Canton.
    Just the other day, my research pardner, Miz Spunky Shinwhacker, played a bit of Ola Belle Reed’s “my epitaph” on the back porch and was telling me her 8-year old daughter had cried when she heard it. The tenor of the melody is quite different, but the theme of the lyrics is quite similar – appreciate and show love to folks while they’re on this side of the veil.
    Thanks for the love of your family and home place that you’re sharing with your readers, Tipper.

  • Reply
    benny watt terry
    July 8, 2012 at 8:47 am

    The songbook is awesome. Some of the songs there I have not heard in many years.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    July 8, 2012 at 8:26 am

    Tipper–I’m curious as to whether the Hightower Baptist Church Stephen Ammons mentions is the one in Swain County. If so, I wonder if he knew the Browns– Louada (or maybe the spelling is Luada) and Betsy–who lived in that area. One was a classmate (now deceased) while the other was an outstanding high school basketball player.
    Just curious.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Tim Mc
    July 8, 2012 at 7:28 am

    I know I’ve heard this song before but for some reason today is the only day I paid much attention to the lyrics, been a long time since I heard it, but very good job your Dad and Brother are really good, but the song has a lot of truth, kindly reminds me of the verses in the Bible that teaches us to love our neighbor and do unto others as we’d have them do unto us….Good lesson to start the day..

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 8, 2012 at 6:59 am

    Nice song, Tipper, and thanks for the information. I marvel at how you are able to ferret out tidbits of information from the rich history of gospel music. It is your love for it makes it come alive.
    PS: I’m gathering the stuff to make those B&B pickles. I’ll let you know how they come out.

  • Reply
    Canned Quilter
    July 8, 2012 at 6:57 am

    Beautiful : )

  • Reply
    Stephen Ammons
    July 8, 2012 at 5:46 am

    Thank you for giving us this video.It brought back many memories of my childhood and church on Sunday mornings.I was brought up in a little church named Hightower Baptist and on Sunday morning instead of having a choir everyone would gather at the front of the church with our songbooks. Nothing was planned and someone would name a page and everyone would start singing.The other songs you mentioned were often sang plus many more. As far as i know the little church is still going today and i have no doubt thats the way it is still done. Thanks again and i am so homesick that i am going to start making plans to visit the church again really soon.

  • Reply
    July 8, 2012 at 5:21 am

    i did not know the same person wrote this song as Love lifted me, i have sung that sung a few thousand times and I love “If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again”
    my first time hearing Give me the roses, beautiful and love the words and believe it to, don’t wait until they are gone to give them flowers or visits.

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