Why Should I Cling to Life?

Lyrics by Marian Partee

Music by Christina Whitten Thomas

Mother’s Word is a song cycle exploring transformative moments in the lives of mothers in the bible. In “Why Should I Cling to Life,” Queen Jezebel sees her assassin heading toward her tower.


I see your chariot in the distance.

You drive your horses with all speed.

You think that I will run from you.

Commander Jehu, 

I shall not flee nor plead.

When you approach my tower,

I shall not hide from death.

I shall look you in the eye,

Rebel Jehu, 

Until my final breath.

Why should I cling to life?

You stole my youngest son from me.

I know Elisha put you up to that attack.

Joram was the rightful king, 

Coward Jehu,

But you shot him in the back.

Why should I cling to life?

I brought you my beloved faith.

Your people slaughtered all the prophets of my god.

Yes, I slew your prophets, too,

Hebrew Jehu,

An act Baal would applaud.

I have done great and terrible deeds.

All Israel was under my command.

Yet I was powerless to save my husband and my sons.

The loss is more than I can stand.

Whatever lies beyond this land of dust,

Be it pleasure or torment,

I shall meet them there.

My family will lead me home

When my soul has been laid bare.

Why should I cling to life?

You turned my people’s hearts to you

And then you tore the mighty House of Ahab down.

You have taken those I love,

Traitor Jehu.

Now you’re coming for my crown.

Royal I was born.

Royal I remain, 

A queen until the end

Of my bold and bloody reign.

Come, assassin Jehu,

Come and banish me from life.

I leave to you a kingdom 

Of envy, war, and strife.

Jezebel by John Liston Byam Shaw, 1896