Shall We Gather at the River
DESCRIPTION: "Shall we gather at the river, Where bright angel feet have trod... Yes, we'll gather at the river, the beautiful, the beautiful river... That flows by the throne of God." A description of the happy life after death in the land of God
AUTHOR: Robert Lowry
EARLIEST DATE: 1865 (Lowry & Doan, _Happy Voices_, according to Reynolds)
KEYWORDS: religious nonballad
FOUND IN: US
REFERENCES (3 citations):
RJackson-19CPop, pp. 26-29, "Beautiful River" (1 text, 1 tune)
Fireside, p. 297, "Shall We Gather at the River" (1 text, 1 tune)
Alcoa Quartet, "Shall We Gather at the River" (Columbia 15022-D, 1925)
Chuck Wagon Gang, "Shall We Gather at the River" (Columbia 20630, 1949)
Kanawha Singers, "Shall We Gather at the River" (Brunswick 328, 1929)
Uncle Dave Macon, "Shall We Gather at the River" (Vocalion 5162, 1927)
Mr. & Mrs. Douglas Swagerty, "Shall We Gather at the River?" (OKeh 40216, 1924)
NOTES: Reverend Robert Lowry (1826-1899) wrote this piece (which he titled 'Beautiful River") on a hot day in 1864. Although it is perhaps the most popular item Lowry ever produced, it is reported that he was not fond of it. Lowry was also responsible for "Where Is My Wandering Boy Tonight" and "How Can I Keep from Singing"; for more on him, see the notes to the latter.
William Reynolds, Companion to Baptist Hymnal, Broadman Press, 1976, p. 192, describes how Lowry came to write the piece: One day in July 1864, the weather was almost unbearably hot, and Lowry was feeling exhausted by the heat. He had what sounds like a fever dream of cool, clear water. Then he thought of the call-and-response "Shall we gather?" and "Yes, we'll gather," and gradually the elements came together.
The tune is sometimes known as "Hanson Place," after Hanson Place Baptist Church, where Lowry was pastor (Reynolds, p. 193)
Aaron Copland would eventually include this in his Old American Songs.
The original arrangement was by one E. Mack, and it is perhaps responsible for much of the piece'spopularity. - RBW
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