“Jesus, Jesus, Oh, What a wonderful Child” (“Glory to the newborn King”)Margaret Wells AllisonWorship & Song, 3060

Jesus, Jesus, O what a exorbitant child.Jesus, Jesus, so holy, meek and mild;new life, new hope the son will bring.Listen to the point of view sing:“Glory, glory, glory!”Let the heavens ring.

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“Glory to the newborn King” is detailed as “Traditional african American” in many hymnals and also as one “African American Spiritual” in a few. Start with the second designation – afri American spirituality – this is virtually certainly no correct. For example, no collection of spirituals list an entry by this name, including the significant Lyrics of the Afro-American Spiritual edited by Erskine Peters (Westport, CN, 1993). Furthermore, within the bigger corpus of african American spirituals, the theme of the nativity of Jesus is relatively rare. African American poet and also scholar James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) discusses the historical and social context of the Christmas holiday in the antebellum South:

. . . The anniversary the the bear of Christ to be not, in the South, in any sense a spiritual or religious holiday. Approximately within recent years , at least, it has been celebrated chiefly v gunpowder and whiskey. It has actually there to be the most secular, also the many profane of all holidays. In enslavement times it to be the sooner or later on i m sorry the slaves were given a type of freedom. The liberty of coming and also going was significantly enlarged. On many plantations whiskey was distributed. The day was one provided over to a an excellent time; come singing, dancing, and visiting; to guzzling, gluttony and debauchery (Johnson, <1926> 1969, pp. 14-15).

Johnson proceeds to note that together a solemn event “destroyed in the mental of the slaves any type of idea that connection between the birth of Christ and his life and also death” (Johnson, <1926>, 1969, p. 15). Together a result, the 2 collections totaling 120 spirituals released by Johnson and also his brothers J. Rosamond Johnson in the very first quarter that the twenty century records just two Christmas-related entries, a spiritual collected in Virginia, “Dar’s A Star In De East” (“Rise up Shepherd An’ Foller”), and one native St. Helena Island (South Carolina), “Mary had A Baby.” James Weldon Johnson contends the these spirituals and any rather with references to the bear of Christ belonging to the time after Emancipation and also none that the previously collections consisted of this theme. He likewise suggested that enslaved Africans assumed of Jesus together a powerful Savior, exemplified, because that example, in “Ride On, King Jesus,” fairly than a helpless infant.

African American scholar Horace Clarence Boyer (1935-2009) indicates that “Glory to the newborn King” was written by a renowned black gospel ensemble, the Angelic Gospel Singers. Your founder and also leader was Margaret Wells Allison (1921-2008), a southern Carolina indigenous who moved to Philadelphia once she to be four. It to be there that she was influenced by the music of her congregation, tiny Temple Pentecostal Church. Limited piano study throughout her primary school years opened up the possibility to pat piano for B. M. Oakley Memorial Church of God. At age 21, she joined the spirituality Echoes, a touring gospel choir. Her pastor said that she type her very own gospel group, therefore she developed the Angelic Gospel Singers in 1944, an ensemble that ongoing performing until Allison’s death. The all-female team was signed by Gotham documents in 1947. Their promoter suggested that they create their very own sound by record a track no one else had used. Allison determined “Touch Me, mr Jesus” by national Baptist Convention, USA gospel legend Lucie Eddie Campbell (1895-1963). The 1949 single recording was a phenomenal success (Cummings, 2011, n.p.). Their last album was released in 2000. The Angelic Gospel Singers was a signature group amongst Pentecostal Christians transparent the united States, and also by 1949, castle were well-known widely transparent gospel circles. In their later on years, they added some male vocalists and instrumentalists, yet Allison offered as the major keyboardist.

As Boyer notes, “Although not evident from its early on success, ‘Glory to the new Born King’ (1950) became as popular in gospel music circles as ‘White Christmas’ is in the popular music world” (Boyer, 1995, pp. 111-112). A perform of the recordings of the Angelic Gospel Singers suggests a 1952 solitary record v “Glory, Glory come the child King” ~ above one side and “Jesus Christ Is Born” top top the other (Angelic Gospel Singers, Wikipedia, n.p.). Information detailed by Allison’s daughter in she obituary states, “Her legacy consists of songs together as: the original composition the “Glory come the child King” which is a Christmas standard . . .” (Manovich, 2008, n.p.). For some time, it was not details that “Glory come the newborn King” and also “Jesus, Jesus, Oh, what a exorbitant child” were the very same song, the last perhaps gift a later on version (McIntyre, 2013, n.p.). One undated YouTube record of the Angelic Gospel Singers (Lyric Video) that has surfaced newly indicating the they indeed are the exact same song through some subtle variations (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlvxmYs2noY). Second 1997 performance, “The Angelic Gospel Singers! 50 years ‘Live’ in Birmingham,” while not consisting of “Glory to the child King,” demonstrates not only a near stylistic connection to the song, but likewise includes numerous songs that incorporate a rhetorical use of “Jesus, Jesus,” as found in the refrain (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSDte7qCf2o).

Apparently, the song remained somewhat limited in use until Mariah Carey recorded it on her album Merry Christmas (1994), after i beg your pardon it ended up being much much more widely known and recorded. Carey’s performance on the recording (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2azO6P2QfQ) reflects a solid Pentecostal performance practice. Among numerous other recordings, a 2009 rendition by gospel singer delight Gardner v Christ Church Pentecostal, Inc. Choir (a global denomination based in Jacksonville, Florida) displayed the song’s country crossover to more comprehensive audiences (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLTbDVNpowc).

The stop as taped by the Angelic Gospel Singers is essentially the exact same as the variation quoted at the beginning of the short article with the exception of Allison’s line, “New life and also hope to all he brings” and also the usage of “angels” (plural) quite than a solitary “angel”. Mariah Carey sings a slightly various version, “New life, brand-new hope, brand-new joy he brings.” Allison inserts a solitary soloistic stanza between the repetitions of the refrain. The stanza, listed below, is the text as sung by the Angelic Gospel Singers. Mariah Carey’s textual variations room in brackets:

He to be herald by the angels,Born in a lowly mangerThe Virgin mary chosen as his motherand Joseph as his earthly father.The wise men traveled native afar,they were guided through the bright starto see King Jesus as the lay,in a manger filled through hay.

An improvised bridge by Carey in a more current Pentecostal layout has additionally been added with the adhering to words:

Oh Jesus, Jesus, Mary"s baby,Lamb that God, Heavenly Child,Jesus, Jesus, i Love Him;Oh Jesus, Almighty God, King that kings;Oh Jesus, oh Jesus, Oh, oh, oh, JesusWonderful, wonderful oneOh, oh, oh Jesus, oh Jesus, boy of God;Oh Jesus, Glory, Glory, Glory come thenew born King, yeah...

The vocal setup used in several hymnals is by Jeffrey Radford (1953-2002), a Chicago-born musician who studied body organ with Robert Wooten, Sr., the conductor of the Wooten Chorale. Rev. Jeremiah Wright engaged Radford to develop the music routine at Trinity united Church that Christ in 1972 and, v Wright, grew the congregation native 100 to 8,000 members with a choir regimen of 950 participants at the moment of Radford’s death (Westermeyer, 2010, pp. 78-79).

Describing the music, Dean McIntyre states, “The song is in a greatly rhythmic 12/8 meter resulting from the triplet subdivision the a 4/4 meter. The melody is unusually restricted, consisting nearly entirely of the note G, A and B plus the lowered 3rd of Bb. The melody rises and climaxes ~ above a D in the ‘Glory, glory, glory’ angels’ song” (McIntyre, 2013, n.p.).

The first printed version of the hymn has actually not been determined. That is exciting to note that the rarely appears in any type of standard african American hymnals with the exemption of This far by Faith (1999), perhaps due to the fact that of its early association through Pentecostal traditions. The new Century Hymnal (1995) had the refrain together “African American Traditional” with Radford’s voicing, and Sing! a new Creation (2001) provides the refrain v Radford’s vocal parts and also an accompaniment through Horace Clarence Boyer. The text is provided as being composed by “Doc Bagby” and the music created by Margaret Allison. The author could not find any kind of further association in between Bagby and also this song. Since then the refrain has been contained in number of twenty-first century mainline hymnals. The initial stanza sung by the Angelic Gospel Singers is clear soloistic and, therefore, not had in any hymnal.


“Angelic Gospel Singers,” Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angelic_Gospel_Singers.

Horace Clarence Boyer, How Sweet the Sound: The golden age of Gospel (Washington, D. C.: Elliott and Clark Publishing, 1995).

Tony Cummings, “Angelic Gospel Singers: Margaret Allison still to sing ‘Touch Me, mr Jesus’,” Cross Rhythms (April 3, 2011), http://www.crossrhythms.co.uk/articles/music/Angelic_Gospel_Singers_Margaret_Allison_still_singing_Touch_Me_Lord_Jesus/43165/p1.

James Weldon Johnson and J. Rosamond Johnson, The books of african American Spirituals, Vol. 2 (New York: The Viking Press, <1925, 1926> 1969).

Bob Manovich, “RIP: Margaret Allison of the Angelic Gospel Singers,” Journal that Gospel Music (July 31, 2008), http://journalofgospelmusic.com/gospel/rip-margaret-allison-of-the-angelic-gospel-singers.

Dean McIntyre, “Jesus, Jesus, Oh, What a exorbitant Child,” Discipleship ministries (September 5, 2013), https://www.cg-tower.com/resources/jesus-jesus-oh-what-a-wonderful-child.

Erskine Peters, Ed., Lyrics that the Afro-American Spiritual: A Documentary Collection; The Greenwood Encyclopedia of black Music(Westport, CN: Greenwood Press, 1993).

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Paul Westermeyer, Hymnal Companion: Evangelical Lutheran Worship (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2010).