Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Unclouded Day

1. O they tell me of a home far beyond the skies, O they tell me of a home far away;
O they tell me of a home where no storm clouds rise, O they tell me of an unclouded day.

"The Unclouded Day" was a favorite song of my uncle Obie Chapman. It is one that I have enjoyed as well. J. K. Alwood, composer of "The Unclouded Day," wrote the following letter to the Morenci (MI) Observer.
June 5, 1879 Editor, observer:
As I entered our village from the south, at 12:50 last night, (returning from the discussion at Spring Hill), I saw a rainbow which was caused by the rays of the moon streaming against a shower of rain falling from a dark, dense cloud a short distance beyond the northwestern limits of our sleeping Morenci. The moon was low in the cloudless southeastern sky. It was a new sight to me; and you can scarcely image the feeling of solemn joy which came over me as I gazed upon the lovely segment of the bow of promise smiling on our quiet town.
Several years later (1896) he wrote the story of how his song came from that incident (he apparently forgot what month it happened):
It was a balmy night in August 1879, when returning from a debate in Spring Hill, Ohio, to my home in Morenci, Michigan, about 1:00 a.m. I saw a beautiful rainbow north by northwest against a dense black nimbus cloud. The sky was all perfectly clear except this dark cloud which covered about forty degrees of the horizon and extended about halfway to the zenith. The phenomenon was entirely new to me and my nerves refreshed by the balmy air and the lovely sight. Old Morpheus was playing his sweetest lullaby. Another mile of travel, a few moments of time, a fellow of my size was ensconced in sweet home and wrapped in sweet sleep. A first class know-nothing till rosy-sweet morning was wide over the fields.
To awake and look abroad and remember the night was to be filled with sweet melody. A while at the organ brought forth a piece of music now known as "The Unclouded Day." A Day and a half was bestowed on the four stanzas.
The above, a story by Alwood's son, and some posthumous tributes can be found at the Alwood Family Tree site.

Josiah Kelly Alwood (1828-1909) was a minister and presiding elder in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ (There may be various modern factions of this church that did not exist in Alwood's day. William J. Reynolds says Alwood was "Always a staunch supporter of the original constitution of his denomination...")

O the land of cloudless day, O the land of an unclouded day,
O they tell me of a home where no storm clouds rise, O they tell me of an unclouded day.

2. O they tell me of a home where my friends have gone, O they tell me of that land far away,
Where the tree of life in eternal bloom Sheds its fragrance through the unclouded day.

3. O they tell me of a king in His beauty there, And they tell me that mine eyes shall behold
Where He sits on the throne that is whiter than snow, In the city that is made of gold.

4. O they tell me that He smiles on His children there, And His smile drives their sorrows all away;
And they tell me that no tears ever come again In that lovely land of unclouded day.

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