Appalachia Music

The Kneeling Drunkard

Today’s guest post was written by Paul.

I learned The Kneeling Drunkard from Pap and my uncle. It was first recorded by the Louvin Brothers in 1958 and released the following year, according to That site lists Anita Carter and the other Carter sisters as the writers. Some sites list Anita alone. I always thought this was a beautiful and moving song. I really should have paid more attention to my vocal in the video below, as it wound up being flat in quite a few places throughout the song. I could have sung it much better, but I was more focused on getting to this location and filming before dark fell. I went ahead and uploaded it because I know that it will be a year before that level of autumn color returns to our mountains.

I wound up getting the instrument I used in a round-about way. Wayde Powell II bid on two at once on Ebay, not expecting to win them both. He sold this one to me for only $25. If you’re a non-musician who follows our channel or blog, and you’d like to learn to play some music, this instrument is easy to play. If you can keep time with a strumming hand and press buttons, then you can play this instrument. You only have to know which chord to press down and at what point in the song. Speaking of that, I missed one chord in the last chorus 🙂

This instrument is actually called a plucked zither and is part of the piano family, but it’s most widely known by the name of the most popular brand “Autoharp” which was designed by Oscar Schmidt. The Carter family made it famous and began or popularized the trend of holding it upright and cradled in the arms, rather than on one’s lap. This allows one to stand and play but can make the wrist tired on the hand that you’re using to press chords. These instruments are very affordable and are easy to tune if you have a chromatic tuner.


I went down by an old country church.
I saw a drunkard stagger and lurch,
And as he reached his mother’s grave,
I saw that drunkard kneel and pray:

Lord have mercy on me
Was the kneeling drunkard’s plea,
And as he knelt there on the ground,
I know that God from heaven looked down.

“Bring my darling boy to me”
Was his mother’s dying plea,
And as he staggered through the gate,
Alas, he came one day too late.

Lord have mercy on me
Was the kneeling drunkard’s plea,
And as he knelt there on the ground,
I know that God from heaven looked down.

Three years have passed since she went away.
Her son is sleeping beside her today,
And I know that in heaven his mother he’ll see
For God heard the drunkard’s plea.

Lord have mercy on me
Was the kneeling drunkard’s plea,
And as he knelt there on the ground,
I know that God from heaven looked down.


I hope you enjoyed Paul’s video and his post. The Kneeling Drunkard is one of those songs that takes me straight back to childhood, church, and sitting in Granny or Pap’s lap.


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  • Reply
    July 28, 2019 at 9:35 am

    Love the singing and such a great message, absolutely love all the singing and reminising on this website, Thanks to all .

  • Reply
    March 24, 2019 at 9:26 pm

    Beautiful, yet tragic.
    Prayers for anyone dealing with substance abuse problems today.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    February 10, 2019 at 2:11 pm

    Beautiful song, voice and location — so glad I found this website. It’s given me much joy and stirred lots of memories. Thank you all. God Bless

  • Reply
    Nary Lou McKillip
    January 2, 2019 at 3:24 pm

    Tipper, the video was beautiful and Paul singing was good . The Wilson voices all over the song I have never heard the song but enjoyed it. Got your post off google by putting in a b it pops right up.

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    April 9, 2018 at 2:34 am

    Beautiful music, voice and especially the lovely autumn trees. Good job, Paul.

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    January 8, 2018 at 8:19 am

    Paul and Tipper, very beautiful post. Great music, singing, and scenery. Thanks so much.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    January 7, 2018 at 4:51 pm

    That was wonderful, Paul. I don’t remember ever hearing it even though I thought I’d heard everything the Louvin Brothers sang.

    The setting is lovely; what cemetery is that? And was that really a rainbow in the upper right part of the initial camera view?

    • Reply
      January 8, 2018 at 5:04 pm

      Don-yes there was a rainbow in the sky the evening we filmed the video. I told Paul it looked like one end was in Hanging Dog : )

  • Reply
    W. Hip.
    January 7, 2018 at 4:43 pm

    Got it

  • Reply
    January 7, 2018 at 4:32 pm

    I can almost hear Pap with his High Tenor singing with Paul. …Ken

  • Reply
    Robert Wasmer
    January 7, 2018 at 4:07 pm

    I got this in my email this morning. I haven’t heard this Louvin Brother song in some time. Paul’s rendition is great!

  • Reply
    January 7, 2018 at 4:04 pm

    Count me in. Move was pretty much on time and smooth….at least on my end. Thank you
    Beautiful song, thanks Paul for sharing your talent and knowledge.
    Happy New Year all.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    January 7, 2018 at 3:51 pm

    Me and Ken are having us a time with this reCaptcha stuff. We got his comments to work it mine didn’t. Hopefully this one will XX

  • Reply
    Mary Ann Rutherford
    January 7, 2018 at 3:20 pm

    Beautiful. I love the crickets chirping in the background. Please film more tunes outdoors…after we are no longer frozen over!

  • Reply
    January 7, 2018 at 3:19 pm

    The song is beautiful and brought tears to my eyes. We have an autoharp and I have no idea how we came by it. I remember our elementary school music teacher played one, because we didn’t have a piano in the classroom nor a music room. The music teacher traveled from school to school, so I reckon she came about once a month. I’m enjoying your new format, and I know it was a lot of work, but it is the first thing I read after I check my e-mail.

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    January 7, 2018 at 3:12 pm

    Yay! In my inbox this morning- it looks great!!!

  • Reply
    January 7, 2018 at 3:11 pm

    Paul’s Autoharp reminds me of when I lived in Skyland, (South Asheville). Right after I moved out here, I bought my youngest girl and Autoharp at Dunham’s Music over in Asheville. I haven’t asked her about it in years, since she was
    raising Baby Girls. The next time I talk to her, I’ll ask about that Autoharp. …Ken

  • Reply
    January 7, 2018 at 3:01 pm

    I got it and if it goes thru, I’ll comment more later. …Ken

  • Reply
    Angie Siddall
    January 7, 2018 at 1:19 pm

    It’s been years since I’ve heard an auto harp (zither) get played. My father had one and I don’t know where it ever got to. Paul did a wonderful rendition of this song, although it is a tear jerker. A very moving and meaningful song, just the same.
    Wishing Paul, Tipper and Family a belated Happy New Year in 2018. God bless!

  • Reply
    betty stephenson
    January 7, 2018 at 12:38 pm

    beautiful cover paul glad your blog has come through tipper its great thanks

  • Reply
    Sallie Martin
    January 7, 2018 at 12:23 pm

    I appreciate your work to preserve our Appalachian music and “ways of our people”. Had never heard this song before. Very well presented. Loved the background of the stunning colors of the mountain, in all of their autumn glory!

  • Reply
    Carl Martin
    January 7, 2018 at 11:20 am

    (a friend of mine…more like a mother or best friend aunt, is laying in the hospital in a coma, with very little hope of survival. It was great timing to have received this email blog post this morning.)

  • Reply
    January 7, 2018 at 9:52 am

    Lovely photo. Lovely song. Lovely voice. Lovely start to a new day.

    received email; clicked on “read on” to get to blog. Will back track to yesterday’s.

    To do all the things you do you must never sleep : or, remember the Star Trek where another culture whose “universe” functioned at about 100 times the speed of the crew’s universe entered the ship . . . ?

    will we have to enter our info each time we post?

    • Reply
      January 7, 2018 at 11:43 am

      Tamela-hopefully the settings on your computer will remember your info!

  • Reply
    Bob Dalsemer
    January 7, 2018 at 9:52 am

    Great song and performance, Paul! I would never have noticed those little glitches if you hadn’t written about them in your post. By the way, for anyone interested, the Folk School offers beginner and intermediate autoharp classes.

  • Reply
    January 7, 2018 at 9:47 am

    I received today’s post via E-mail. The site has a nice, uncluttered appearance and seems to be very user friendly.

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    January 7, 2018 at 9:45 am

    I look forward to Sunday music. I’ve never heard this song but it is good. Of course, nobody can put as much into a song as y’all. My email came through. It went to my spam–but everything but spam does! I’m liking the new format.

    This is exciting!

  • Reply
    January 7, 2018 at 9:40 am

    Very nicely done. You can’t get passed Appalachia with out a Auto harp, dulcimer, fiddle or guitar in the mix some where, sounds hopefully, if time stands will always be ringing out the tradition.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    January 7, 2018 at 9:27 am

    Came in great just like it always did. Love the new format.

  • Reply
    January 7, 2018 at 9:01 am

    I don’t think I ever heard this touching hymn before. So beautiful — the lyrics, Paul’s sweet voice, the little cemetery.

  • Reply
    a.w. griff
    January 7, 2018 at 8:40 am

    Got in my gmail. I was really touched by the song. I hadn’t heard it in many years.

  • Reply
    Dee Parks
    January 7, 2018 at 8:22 am

    Tipper, this blog came right through to my email like they used to. Paul did an outstanding job singing that song and the backdrop was beautiful. That was a sweet and sad, sad song.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    January 7, 2018 at 8:18 am

    Came into my inbox OK. Looks different and instead of clicking on the title, now I click on “Read on”.

    By the way, I have a mysterious glitch in my Kindle. I do not get sound on some files but on others I do. To make it even stranger, I have had both happen on one file, each at different access times. It isn’t your site.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 7, 2018 at 8:15 am

    Beautiful, Paul, thank you! Looks like the move is smoothing out. It has been quite an undertaking for you but you’ve done it and it’s beautiful!

  • Reply
    Kay Dallas
    January 7, 2018 at 8:06 am

    I loved this. Beautiful just beautiful

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    January 7, 2018 at 7:38 am

    Tipper–Although I only got a 404 error message yesterday through regular channels (accessed the blog through Google) today’s came to me in fine fashion and appreciably earlier than the 7:50 arrival time of the old system. Hopefully you’ll keep ironing out the glitches, and I reckon I’m going to have to hire B. Ruth to come and show me the way around a computer. She mentions some kind of access trick that is a complete mystery to me.

  • Reply
    Malcolm and Ciejay
    January 7, 2018 at 7:24 am

    Thanks for that sweet and sad song ,Paul.

  • Reply
    January 7, 2018 at 6:52 am

    Got this one right on time this morning!
    Beautiful post Paul, thank you for your time and sharing God’s gift
    Many blessings on the day

  • Reply
    Wesley P Bossman
    January 7, 2018 at 6:42 am

    Thanks Blind Pig and the the Acorn,
    That was a touching way to begin a Sunday morning.

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