Saturday, October 17, 2009

In a Land Where We'll Never Grow Old (1914) - the first ever "country gospel" recording

If this doesn't tug your heart strings I don't know what will.



It had been written by James Moore (1888 - 1962), a young Baptist pastor, in 1914, when he was just 26. He had gone home to the church his ageing father was the pastor of, and when his father - Charles Robert Moore - tried to sing, his voice was frail and weak. James wrote this hymn shortly after, and dedicated it to his parents. It was recorded by Smith's Sacred Singers from northern Georgia, said to be the first ever "country gospel" record. To understand what that category meant back then, empty your mind of any ridiculous Garth Brooks and Shania Twain nonsense, and picture yourself sitting in a primitive wee wooden mission hall in the Ulster-Scots-influenced rural South of America, among country folk who lived off the land and had a heart for the gospel. The Smith's Sacred Singers record was a phenomenon - it sold a staggering 277,000 copies in an age when sales of 5000 were considered good.

(In a Land Where We'll) Never Grow Old

I have heard of a land on the far away strand,
’Tis a beautiful home of the soul;
Built by Jesus on high, where we never shall die,
’Tis a land where we never grow old.

Refrain
Never grow old, never grow old,
In a land where we’ll never grow old;
Never grow old, never grow old,
In a land where we’ll never grow old.

In that beautiful home where we’ll never more roam,
We shall be in the sweet by and by;
Happy praise to the King through eternity sing,
’Tis a land where we never shall die.

Refrain

When our work here is done and the life crown is won,
And our troubles and trials are o’er;
All our sorrow will end, and our voices will blend,
With the loved ones who’ve gone on before.

3 comments:

johnieb said...

Have you heard the vocal Group Anonymous Four do this music? I cannot recommend their work highly enough. Harmonia Mundi HMU 907326 (American Angels) and HMU 907400 (Gloryland),; the latter includes secular music in the same tradition.

This "Southern White Gospel" is my "Roots" music; my mother's family sang it together at home as their chief entertainment a hundred years ago.

dmpnole27 said...

Just came across this a few days ago. I am the Grandson of J. Frank Smith of Smith's Sacred Singers, and is humbled that the there are people who still appreciate his music. Also the acknowledgement of how his group was such an influence in the county gospel movement during the 20’s and 30’s.
Thank you Douglas Poe.

dmpnole27 said...

Just came across this a few days ago. I am the Grandson of J. Frank Smith of Smith's Sacred Singers, and is humbled that the there are people who still appreciate his music. Also the acknowledgement of how his group was such an influence in the county gospel movement during the 20’s and 30’s.
Thank you Douglas Poe.