Everybody Will Be Happy Over There is, be definition, a happy gospel song. As such, it belongs in the list of songs I grew up enjoying. It was especially fun because the guys got their own part to sing. We’d all be singing together until the chorus, then the ladies hit the high notes, and the men took the bass notes. For a kid whose voice had only begun breaking into a deeper octave, that made ‘Will Be Happy’ a very appealing song. The preacher’s son, Frank, and I were of an age, and our voices were both hitting the same exact deep note. To me, it was a great time standing in the choir with Frank and hitting those same low notes exactly together. We sounded kind of like two semi trucks on the road. But in tune.
Lost touch with Frank over the years, and most of my vocal range has also disappeared as I got older. But when it was happening, it was golden. And this is one of the few songs he and I could match perfectly together.
Oh, and when I say ‘choir’, don’t get the wrong idea. This wasn’t a fancy church where they had a dedicated choir that met all week long to practice. This was a small country church, and the choir consisted of anybody who wanted to stand up front and sing together. Often it was a spur-of-the-moment thing for me to be in it.
Everybody Will Be Happy was written by E M Barlett. I’m not familiar with the “Red-back Hymnal”, but apparently if you have a copy, the lyrics and music are on page 180. Written in 1921, thus barely making the cut for public domain, if you feel led to do your own version, it’s freely available.
Mr. Barlett was my kind of guy. A prolific gospel song writer, he was well-known for writing toe-tapping hymns. I like toe-tapping. He was also a living, breathing, real life inspiration for his day and beyond. Later in life, a stroke caused partial paralysis. Rather than dwell on the bad, he continued to live in faith and anticipation. His final song is the well-known “Victory in Jesus”. There’s a man who walked his faith. Anybody can talk, but when the chips were down, he still knew beyond a shadow of a doubt where his faith was.
I wish I’d known about him a few years ago. It would have helped put my own crisis of the time into perspective. But… everything in it’s time, and for it’s reason. And I’m in a far better position to respect his strength. Not to mention, enjoy his music… I got a bit carried away, but had a blast playing it!