Monday, July 1st, marks the birthday of Thomas Dorsey, who wrote “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” and “Peace in the Valley.” Our friends over at the Lights4God blog shared the biography of Thomas Dorsey with us, and we’d like to share it with you. It is a remarkable story, with great words of comfort arising from great sorrow, and how God’s call remains, even while we are chasing worldly pursuits … I’m also reminded, again, of how important being raised in a Godly home is …
Thomas Dorsey was born in Villa Rica, GA, (Yeah Villa Rica!!! We’ll return there next month!). I was there at the ceremony, when they dedicated the Historical Marker in Thomas Dorsey’s honor, in Villa Rica, back in 1994.
Here are the words on the Historical Marker, taken from Wikipedia:
Thomas A. Dorsey historical marker
THOMAS A. DORSEY
Father of Gospel
Thomas Andrew Dorsey, composer of over 400 blues and gospel songs, lived here following his birth in Villa Rica on July 1, 1899. At Mt. Prospect Baptist Church he was exposed to shape-note singing and at home learned to play a used pump organ, experiences he said “sprang” his career. The young blues pianist moved to Chicago in 1919 in the Great Migration.
Dorsey wrote the world’s most popular gospel-blues song after his wife and newborn son died unexpectedly on August 26 and 27, 1932. That song, Take My Hand, Precious Lord has been translated into 32 languages. Aretha Franklin recorded Take My Hand, Precious Lord in 1956, the same year Tennessee Governor Frank Clement recited it. It became the anthem of Fannie Lou Hamer’s Mississippi Summer. Dorsey’s friend, Mahalia Jackson, sang it at Martin Luther King, Jr’s funeral. Elvis Presley’s recording of Dorsey’s second-most-popular gospel song, Peace in the Valley, sold millions of copies.
For a while, any new gospel-blues song, regardless of who wrote it, was called a “Dorsey” until Dorsey himself coined the name “gospel”. Dorsey died in Chicago on January 23, 1993.
022-8 GEORGIA HISTORIC MARKER 1994
This historical marker sits alongside U.S. Hwy 78 because the actual house Dorsey was born in has been gone a long time. Dorsey’s home was approximately 1/4 mile NNW of the marker’s location. The Mt. Prospect Baptist Church building Dorsey learned music in has also been gone a long time although the church itself is still an active part of the Villa Rica community.
Now, please enjoy the guest post from the Lights4God blog. Here’s a direct link:
THOMAS DORSEY | Lights 4 God.