Monday, February 08, 2016

Smith's Sacred Singers, 1926-1930--Classic country gospel!

Terrific gospel sides by the terrific Smith's Sacred Singers, a quartet from North Carolina Georgia which was led by one J. Frank Smith.  Many familiar tunes here, and I've done my best to trace them to the actual authors and years--not an easy task, since most are associated with later, big-name recording artists.  For example, Pictures from Life's Other Side tends to be associated with Hank Williams, who, under the pseudonymn Luke the Drifter, narrated the song for MGM.  I've been tracking down Picture's history for quite a while, and all I know for sure is that it's pre-1900 and that no two published melodies are identical.  That, plus the title shows up in different forms (A Picture from..., for ex.).  Here's Wikipedia's take, which seems right: Pictures from Life's Other Side.  Below are scans from a turn of the century songster of the same name (!) which features the words only, credited to Charles E. Baer and copyrighted 1896 (which may simply be that particular publisher's year).  These are (mostly) the same words we hear on the Smith recording:


Pictures' lyrics are in the same socially progressive vein as those of Only a Tramp (a.k.a. Tramp on the Street) and Father's a Drunkard and Mother Is Dead, two other late nineteenth-century pop numbers that became gospel standards.

He Will Set Your Fields on Fire (w: L.L. Brackett; m: C.M. Ballew) is associated with Bill Monroe and Carl Story, but, obviously, the song predates their recordings.  I know nothing about its year of origin, save that it was no later than 1927 (the date of this 78)!  Fabulous song.

Meet Me There (w: Fanny J. Crosby; m: William Kirkpatrick, 1885).  Camp-meeting-style "answer" "echo" chorus and Crosby lyrics!  What more could anyone want?

Where We'll Never Grow Old (a.k.a. Never Grow Old) (w/m: Jas. C. Moore).  For background, here's a typically outstanding entry from the Internet's best website, Cyber Hymnal: Never Grow Old.  I had no idea the song was a lift!

When Jesus Comes (w/m: James W. Gaines, 1923)

Shouting on the Hills (a.k.a There'll Be Shouting) (w/m: E.M. Bartlett, 1925)

I Will Sing of My Redeemer (w: Philip P. Bliss, 1876; m: James McGranahan, 1877)

I Want to Go to Heaven (w/m:?).  I can find nothing on this!

We Shall Rise (a.k.a. Hallelujah, We Shall Rise) (w/m: John E. Thomas, 1904)

Working for the Crown (w: Mrs. H.A. Mabry; m: H.A.R. Horton, 1899)

Lord I'm Coming Home (w/m: William J. Kirkpatrick, 1892)

The Church in the Wildwood (a.k.a. Little Brown Church in the Vale) (w/m: William S. Pitts, 1857).  One of the most famous sacred choruses ever.

All 78s are from my collection, and ripped and restored with MAGIX Audio Cleaning Lab MX.  The sound quality ranges from so-so to very good.  Some of these needed a lot of work.  To the songs:

Click here to hear: Smith's Sacred Singers, 1926-1930


He Will Set Your Fields on Fire--Columbia 15144-D (1927)
Meet Me There--Columbia 15401 (1929)
Pictures from Life's Other Side--Columbia 15090-D (1926)
Where We'll Never Grow Old--Same
When Jesus Comes--Columbia 15371-D (1928)
Shouting on the Hills--Columbia 15110-D (1926)
I Will Sing of My Redeemer--Columbia 15144-D (1927)
I Want to Go to Heaven--Columbia 15230-D (1927)
We Shall Rise--Same
Working for the Crown--Columbia 15401-D (1929)
Lord I'm Coming Home--Columbia 15371-D (1928)
The Church in the Wildwood--Columbia 15551-D (1930)



Buster said...

Wonderful - most interesting material, and of course your commentary is always apt and illuminating. Thanks, Lee!

Lee Hartsfeld said...

My pleasure! Glad you enjoyed.

Josh Owens said...

Mr. Hartsfeld,
Just downloaded the folder, looking forward to the great stuff here! I first heard them thirty-plus years ago, on WPAQ's Blue Ridge Spotlight, hosted at that time by the now late Ralph Epperson and fell in love with their sound. I believe they are from Brazelton, GA, not NC however.

Lee Hartsfeld said...


You're absolutely correct--it's GA! Thanks. I corrected the text.

I must have misread "North Georgia." A brain burp....

Hope you enjoy the sides!