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GOSPEL GLORY, New SSA/SSAA arrangements by Gwyn Arch



Arranger: ARCH GWYN



RECORDING: Performed by The Gotherington Singers, Conducted by Margaret Crompton

Just a Closer Walk with Thee - Lead Me, Guide Me - Do Lord

Whether it's a Spiritual or a Gospel song often confuses people, and indeed, the two have been inter-related for well over a hundred years. To quote from the standard reference book that traces the origins and development of the negro spiritual (‘Black Song - the Forge and the Flame') we read, "What is called Gospel Music is hardly anything more than an effort to give the spiritual a modernity in form, content and beat. Whereas the spiritual was created and disseminated by the folk, the gospel hymn is written by well-known individuals and swept into the religious community on a tide of evangelical fervour". This observation is written by someone very biased towards the merits of spirituals but is essentially true.

Among the "well-known individuals" promoting a modern (and semi-commercialized) style of the music we now recognize as Gospel the most prominent was "the father of black gospel music" Thomas A. Dorsey (1899-1993). As formulated by Dorsey, gospel music combines Christian worship of the evangelical variety with the rhythms of jazz and the blues. More significantly, the singer's relationship with God is much more personalized. "Do Lord, oh do Lord, do remember me"; "Just a Closer Walk with Thee"; "Lead me, guide me" - and that's just the titles in this medley!

Do Lord was written by Julia Ward Howe, best known for her authorship of the celebrated "Battle Hymn of the Republic" (Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord....) 150 years later we find Johnny Cash recording it in his final, posthumously-released album "My mother's hymn book" - a collection of hymns and gospels (2004).

Just a Closer Walk with Thee - The history of this song is unknown, but it probably dates back to southern African/American churches of the second half of the 19th century. It became a big favourite with jazz bands in the late 40s and the revival of interest in New Orleans jazz resulted in multiple recordings, by Elvis Presley in 1958, Mahalia Jackson (all through her career), Louis Armstrong, Pat Boone, Little Richard, The Seekers, Ella Fitzgerald, Joan Baez, Wynton Marsalis & Eric Clapton (2011).

Lead me, Guide Me - A mid 20th century gospel number associated with the name of Doris Akers, a composer, arranger and recording artist. She was best known for her fresh, modern arrangements of traditional negro spirituals. Many of her own compositions were recorded by her great friend Mahalia Jackson (as well as Elvis Presley, etc.!

Initially, this medley presents these three gospels songs separately, but towards the end "Just a Closer Walk" and "Lead Me, Guide Me" appear simultaneously.

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