Sunday, April 12, 2020

Gospel Waves

The following song can be found in The Sacred Harp, Fourth Edition with Supplement, by J. L. White, 1911. The first two stanzas and chorus are as found there. The third stanza is in Gospel Waves recorded by the Smith Sacred Singers circa 1927-28. That stanza is transcribed as best I could, with the input from several others. It may not be what was originally written or exactly what is being sung.

1. Up from the shore (sacred shore) of far Galilee (Galilee)
Where the storm raged (fiercely raged) so dark and wild (dark and wild)
Gospel waves roll (peace be still) a message to me (even me)
Fear not, ’tis I (Jesus speaks) O, wavering child (trust in me)

Gospel waves roll (ever roll) in pow’r and might (pow’r and might)
Bear o’er the earth (o’er the earth) the message of light ((wondrous light)
Gospel waves roll (swiftly roll) on Calvary’s stream (Calv’rys stream)
Sing, O my soul (He’ll redeem) the Lord will redeem (redeem).

2. Out of Gethsemena’s (where alone) garden of woe (Jesus wept)
Where the Lord wept (Jesus wept) in pain and grief (prostrate lay)
Gospel waves roll (ever roll) to all here below (here below)
Bearing sweet comfort (trust his love) bringing relief (praise his name).

3. From the death scene (earth behold) on Calvary’s height (hear him cry)
Where Jesus died (to the place) the world to save (boundless love)
Gospel waves roll (ever roll) in splendor and might (sound his praise)
Roll on in pow’r (mighty pow’r) o’er death and the grave (Jesus reign). 

Donaho, Carl, the named composer of Gospel Waves, remains unknown. The earliest discovered appearance of the song currently is The Sacred Harp, Fifth Edition, 1909. It also appears in Church of God Songs: for Church, Family and Religious Worship (M. S. Lemmons, Efford Haynes, Cleveland, TN: Church of God Publishing House, 1920) and The Christian Harmony – both the Deason-Parris revision of 1958 and the 2010 combined edition (page 82b). The name “Donaho” might be misspelled, or an alias under which another songwriter composed. However, contrary to the attribution in The Sacred Harp, Charles K. Wolfe names “F. M. Ferrell” as the “author of ‘Gospel Waves’.”[i]

526      Gospel Waves

Ferrell, F. M. If Charles K. Wolfe is correct, the composer of Gospel Waves is Francis Mickleberry “Mick” Ferrell of Mt. Sylvan, Texas. F. M. Ferrell (as his songs are attributed) was born in Georgia January 24, 1864 to John W. Ferrell and Nancy W. Head. The family was in Coweta County, Georgia in 1880, but was in Texas by 1886, when Mick married Beulah Beckham. Mick Ferrell was a farmer, songwriter, and teacher of vocal music. At some time in the early 20th century, Ferrell compiled Heavenly Light with J. B. Vaughan of Elberton, Georgia. In 1898, he was president of the Smith County Singing Convention, and perhaps other years. At this time the convention used Crowning Day, a Ruebush-Kieffer publication.[i] Ferrell died August 2, 1946 at age 82. He and his wife are buried at the Dover Cemetery near Lindale in Smith County, Texas.

Floyd, Mrs. E. G. is Eugenia F. Greer Floyd, the daughter of Spencer Greer and Adeline Jefferies. She was born March 24, 1829 in Union County, South Carolina. The family was in Dallas County, Arkansas in 1860, and came to Texas around 1864. Eugenia married John W. Floyd, Jr. (1847–1901) in 1869. Texas state senator William Jefferies Greer was her brother, and his wife was the daughter of Sacred Harp singer Judge J. P. Gossett of Canton, Texas. According to HymnTime, “She taught at the first school established in nearby Glenwood, Texas.” Her hymns are usually attributed to “Mrs. E. G. Floyd” or “Mrs. E. Greer Floyd.” Eugenia died January 5, 1934 at age 84 in Gilmer, Texas. She and her husband are buried at the Gilmer City Cemetery in Gilmer, Upshur County, Texas. Mrs. E. G. Floyd wrote many hymns used by various songwriters. She may have written as many as 100 hymns in the late 1800s and early 1900s. A 1928 recording by J. Frank Smith’s Sacred Singers reveal a third stanza not found in The Sacred Harp or The Christian Harmony. The date that Gospel Waves, either words or music, was written is currently unknown.
526      Gospel Waves (words)

[i]Smith Co. Singing Convention,” Musical Million, Volume 29, Number 7, July 1, 1898, p. 109

[i]Frank Smith, Andrew Jenkins, and Early Commercial Gospel Music,” by Charles K. Wolfe in American Music, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Spring, 1983), University of Illinois Press, pp. 49-59.

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