Little Brown Church in the Vale, The (The Church in the Wildwood)

DESCRIPTION: "There's a church in the valley by the wildwood, No lovelier spot in the dale; No place is so dear to my childhood...." "Come to the church in the wildwood, Oh, come to the church in the dale." The singer recalls the joys of church as both child and adult
AUTHOR: William S. Pitts
EARLIEST DATE: 1865 (sheet music published by J. M. Higgins of Chicago)
KEYWORDS: religious nonballad
REFERENCES (3 citations):
WolfAmericanSongSheets, #1281, pp. 87-88, "Little Brown Church" (1 reference)
ADDITIONAL: Charles Johnson, One Hundred and One Famous Hymns (Hallberg, 1982), pp, 172-173, "The Little Brown Church in the Vale" (1 text, 1 tune)
Robert J. Morgan, _Then Sings My Soul, Book 2: 150 of the World's Greatest Hymn Stories_, Nelson, 2004, pp. 86-87, "Little Brown Church in the Vale" (1 text, 1 tune)

Roud #4970
Chuck Wagon Gang, "The Church in the Wildwood" (Vocalion 03028/OKeh 03028, c. 1936; ARC 7-06-60, 1937; Columbia 20501, 1948; Columbia 20699, 1950; Columbia 54010, 1956)
100% Americans, "The Cross in the Wildwood" [Ku Klux Klan song] (KKK 75003, c. 1924)
Imperial Quintette of Lansing, Mich., "The Fiery Cross in the Vale" (Imperial Quintette K-27, rec. 1924)
NOTES [140 words]: According to Johnson, this is largely about an actual church built in the 1860s in the town of Bradford, Iowa (near present-day Nashua). Bradford was bypassed by the railroads, and withered away, but as of his writing, the church still stood. Morgan reports that the congregation is relatively small but the church is financially sound because so many people want to be married at "the" Little Brown Church."
The story of the song's composition, as given by Morgan, seems almost too good to be true: Author Pitts came by the spot before the church was built, thought it would be a great site for a church and wrote the song -- but filed it away until five years later when, visiting the site again, he found that someone had built a church just where he thought one should be built. That inspired Pitts to put the song before the world. - RBW
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File: BdLBCitV

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