Gospel Song – Old Blind Barnabas

Gospel Song – Old Blind Barnabas

Gospel Song – Old Blind Barnabas.

Recorded in 1941 by the Golden Gate Quartet, this song is in the talking gospel tradition. Talking gospel usually highlights a Bible story by reading the words in rhyme to a rhythm in the background. The composer of this song was Willie T. Johnson of the Golden Gate Quartet. Barnabas was a shortened form of Bartimaeus, and sometimes the name Bartimus is also used. It has been recorded by contemporary groups, such as the Blind Boys of Alabama. The story of the healing of blind Bartimaeus is found in the Gospel of Mark 10:46-52.

LYRICS – Old Blind Barnabas

Refrain: Well old Bartimaeus stood on the way, blind

                Blind Bartimaeus stood on the way

                Well, old blind Bartimaeus stood on the way, crying

                Oh Lord, have mercy on me.

In my God’s Bible, the Word proclaims

that Christ went healing the crippled and the lame.

He gave to the poor and the needy bread,

healing the sick and raising the dead.

And then when He came to Galilee,

He passed by a man that could not see.

Well, the man was blind, he was blind from birth.

They tell me that his name was Blind Bartimaeus.


When Bartimaeus heard the Lord was nigh,

he fell on his knees and began to crying,

O thou man of Galilee, cryin’ Great God Almighty, have mercy on me.

Cryin’ O Lord (Son of David), O Lord (Son of Man), O Lord (Bleeding Lamb), O my Lord from in Bethlehem.

Then my Lord He stopped and He turned around,

and He saw Blind Bartimaeus on the ground.

And He touched his eyes with the palm of His hand,

Blind Bartimaeus saw like a natural man.

Then he cried Thank God, Thank God, Thank God, Thank God.


When blind Bartimaeus sat on the way of Jesus and shouted “Have mercy!“, he used two words that will stop Jesus every time. Jesus loves to show mercy, wherever He goes. When we ask Him for mercy, it’s in His nature to stop whatever He’s doing and pay attention. Whenever we shout “Have mercy!” Jesus has no choice but to stop, look, and listen. And we don’t even have to shout. Even a groan will do.

When Jesus said to Bartimaeus, “Your faith has healed you,” there is an interesting Greek word for “heal.” The Greek word is “sozo,” and it’s one of those terms that has multiple  meanings… delivered, saved, healed, restored, rescued, preserved, made whole. The implication is that Bartimaeus was not only healed of blindness by Jesus, but also saved from his sins and delivered into a life of discipleship. All it took was a word from Jesus, and Bartimaeus was made whole physically and spiritually. As soon as Bartimaeus was healed and rescued, he immediately followed Jesus down the road.

Aren’t we all blind in some way? We simply don’t see as we should. Blind to God’s goodness and wisdom, blind to God’s power and glory, blind to the needs of others, blind to our own needs. Blind to the truth in understanding Scripture, blind to God’s mercy in preserving us from one breath to the next. We all need to be healed of some type of blindness. Praise the Lord, Jesus can bring us from the darkness of ignorance to the light of understanding, and heal our blindness, just as he did old blind Bartimaeus.