Dry Bones song: Ezekiel cried, ‘Dem dry bones!’

by October 19, 20110 comments

Dry Bones, the video above by Dan DiFelice, is something that showed up in my Vimeo inbox the other day and caught my eye. It does not use the Dry Bones song.
However, both this short film and the Dry Bones song share the same inspiration: the Old Testament’s Book of Ezekiel, chapter 37, verses 1-10. In the passage, the prophet is carried away by the spirit of God to the Valley of Dry Bones. There, God urges Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones, to tell them that He is going to reassemble and reanimate them, restore their sinews and flesh, and revive these dead bodies with the breath of life.

This reminds me that a couple of years ago, we went to the Body Worlds exhibit when it was in Milwaukee, and it was a fairly disturbing experience.

The Vision of The Valley of The Dry Bones — Gustave Doré engraving, 1866

Ezekiel 37 is interpreted as a prophecy of the restoration of Israel, whose people were exiles in Babylon at the time of this vision. In a broader sense, the vision is also seen as a foreshadowing of the idea of individual resurrection of the dead.

Last Friday, I had a long conversation with a Jehovah’s Witness who rang my bell. A cold wind was pulling hard on our storm door as I held its handle, and in leaving, this visitor gave me a Bible verse to look up and ponder on my own — John 5:28:

Do not be surprised at this,
For the hour is coming
when the dead will leave their graves
at the sound of his voice

It’s certainly a compelling concept, this reversal of death, especially in these days leading up to Halloween, when so much outdoor life is winding down and falling away. It might be nice to rewind back to August.

Dry Bones song

Of course, that same Ezekiel passage also served as the basis for a traditional spiritual song, “Dem Bones, Dry Bones” or “Dem Dry Bones,” which, according to Wikipedia, was “used to teach basic anatomy to children.”

I do remember the Dry Bones song from my early childhood — and vaguely from ABC’s Schoolhouse Rock! on Saturday mornings, where Jack Sheldon sang about the importance of drinking milk to keep “Them Not-So-Dry Bones” healthy.
Here’s a clip of The Delta Rhythm Boys performing “Dem Dry Bones” (you can buy the song at Amazon.com), with the camera oddly panning them from the feet up as they progress through the verse and their half-step modulations, circa 1947:

Well the toe bone connected to your foot bone
The foot bone connected to your heel bone
The heel bone connected to your ankle bone
The ankle bone connected to your leg bone
The leg bone connected to your knee bone
The knee bone connected to your thigh bone
The thigh bone connected to your hip bone
The hip bone connected to your backbone
The back bone connected to your shoulder bone
The shoulder bone connected to your neck bone
The neck bone connected to your head bone
Now hear the word of the Lord

Skeletons holding hands

Finishing out my orthopedic meditation today is a news story that the The Sun titles “Boneo And Juliet.”

It concerns a pair of skeletons unearthed at a monastery in Cluj, Romania. The couple, buried together in a joint tomb maybe 500 years ago, have been holding hands ever since. A version of the story at Archaeology Magazine includes a photo.

This post is tagged: Bible, death, featured, religion, song.

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