AAMAM: Oh Happy Day! Beyond The Walls Of The Black Church. Part 6 of 30


Edwin Hawkins Singers singing “Oh Happy Day” 1970.

Those whom are intimately familiar with the music of the Black church are compelled to rejoice upon hearing the rhythmic chord progressions of “Oh Happy Day.”  The song relays the joyous moment after having one’s sins washed away—a baptism by water.  “Oh Happy Day” reiterates faith and hope the Black church has in the redemptive power of Jesus Christ.

The song “Oh Happy Day” stems from an 18th century hymn. It was rearranged by contemporary gospel musician and singer, Edwin Hawkins. The song was sung by the Edwin Hawkins Singers and released on the album Let Us Go Into The House Of The Lord in 1968 and became a huge hit in 1969.  Its rhythmic groove, which was similar to popular soul music of the era, allowed it to easily cross over onto the soul and urban charts of the day.  Not only was it a spiritually rejuvenating song but also one, which appealed to a pop audience.  Hawkins’ song went on to sell upward of two million copies.

“Oh Happy Day” set the foundation of contemporary gospel music with its pop rhythm and blues bounce that pushed and challenged the boundaries of gospel music of the late 60s.  Today contemporary gospel music expands in such a way that continues to set new bench marks and push gospel music boundaries.  As well, today, “Oh Happy Day” has found its place among the traditional standards of great gospel songs.

Oh happy day, AAMAM!


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