I Wanna Die Easy

The Bird Sings Oral Tradition Song Library

I Wanna Die Easy

A traditional African-American spiritual. Can be sung at the same time as “Wade in the Water” and “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child”, an arrangement I learned from Ysaye Barnwell and have her blessing and encouragement to share.

Composer & Copyright

Public domain.


This recording is by Lisa G. Littlebird.

Standalone track:

With the other two spirituals:


I wanna die easy when I die
I wanna die easy when I die
I wanna die easy when I die
Shout salvation when I rise
I wanna die easy when I die

Teaching Notes

*Important Note!* When sharing spirituals in song circles, I make a point of acknowledging that I am a white woman who has learned the songs from well-respected African-American songleaders, and received their blessing and encouragement to share them. When sharing songs from other cultures, and especially those deeply tied to complex histories and stories of people of color, there are a variety of things worthy of paying care-filled attention to. I do my best to study and share the histories of these songs along with the songs themselves, to use them as an opportunity to educate those present and more deeply connect with the very real and painful history of slavery in my country of origin. I deeply believe in the sharing these songs as a tool for cultural healing. And there are some environments when sharing them may not be appropriate, such as a song circle where another songleading person of color is present and can share the song instead. These are complex, current and ongoing conversations without easy answers. We are actively engaged in these conversations in Flight School – I welcome you to take the course and join us!

This is the most challenging of the three spirituals in this trio to teach, as it is twice as long, has more note variation and covers a wide vocal range. In circles where quicker learning is required I often leave this one out and teach only the other two spirituals. Or in smaller groups, I’ll teach the group the other two and sing this one myself.


Level of teaching speed/ difficulty (1 = very easy, 10 = very challenging)



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