…Just a few more weary days and then…

Born in 1905 near Spiro, Oklahoma (“Indian territory” as it was then known) Albert Edward Brumley spent a good part of his youth picking cotton, going to church on Sunday and living the humble existence of a sharecropper’s son.  Although life was hard, it wasn’t dull.  Work was considered a noble endeavor and, as his father was a decent fiddle player, music was prevalent most evenings after supper.

A shy, scrawny, but “always clean” kid, who was known to play baseball in bib overalls and a tie, by the time he was a teen people began to take note of his rich, bass voice. At age 16, Brumley wrote his first song (which took six years to have published) but it wasn’t until he was 21 that he finally left the family farm and, wearing his only suit, boarded a bus for the small coal-mining town of Hartford, Arkansas with his sites keenly set on attending the Musical Institute of Hartford.

The Institute was owned and operated by Eugene Monroe Bartlett, who also owned the Hartford Music Company.  When young Brumley found him in his office and expressed interest in learning how to sing and write music Bartlett asked if he had the five dollars for tuition.

“No sir, Mr. Bartlett, I don’t have any money period,” was the answer.

Bartlett then looked the skinny young man up and down and said, “Well, in that case you’d better go over to my house and board.”

By 1931, Brumley, now a published song writer and singing teacher, met and married his wife, Goldie and eventually settled by the banks of the Big Sugar Creek in Powell, Missouri. After the death of his kindly benefactor, Eugene Bartlett, the couple purchased the Hartford Music Company. More significantly, over the next five decades Albert Brumley would write more than 800 songs and is now recognized as the preeminent gospel songwriter of the 20th Century.

Brumley once said that he came up with the idea for today’s selection while picking cotton in his teens. Humming and singing an old secular ballad (“The Prisoner’s Song”) that featured the line “If I had the wings of an angel, over these prison walls I would fly,” it occurred to him that prison made a fine analogy for earthly life and that he could use the ballad as a basis for a gospel song.

Ultimately published in 1929, Brumley later admitted that when he finally managed to complete the song, “I had no idea that it would become so universally popular.”  As a matter of fact it is believed to be the most recorded gospel song ever written. Long considered to be a bluegrass standard, “I’ll Fly Away” is also featured in various Christian denominational hymnals, including those used by Baptists, Pentecostals, Nazarenes, Church of Christ and Methodists.

Today’s selection is performed by Gillian Welch and (our old favorite) Alison Krauss and was featured on the “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” Soundtrack.

 LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Sunday 1 July

I’ll Fly Away

 Some glad morning when this life is o’er,

I’ll fly away

To a home on God’s celestial shore,

I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away).

 I’ll fly away, Oh Glory

I’ll fly away (in the morning)

When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,

I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away).

 When the shadows of this life have gone,

I’ll fly away

Like a bird from prison bars has flown,

I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away)

I’ll fly away, Oh Glory

I’ll fly away (in the morning)

When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,

I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away).

 Just a few more weary days and then,

I’ll fly away

To a land where joy shall never end,

I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away)

 I’ll fly away, Oh Glory

I’ll fly away (in the morning)

When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,

I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s