Song Story: Peace in the Valley
This beautiful song was written by Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey in 1937.
Dorsey was born on July 1, 1899 in Villa Rica, Georgia.
The 1930s were a difficult time for him. In 1930, his wife and newborn son died. He later said, “I was doing all right by myself, but the voice of God whispered, ‘You need to change a little.’” He eventually left the R&B and Jazz world.
He wrote Peace in the Valley for Mahala Jackson, the queen of gospel.
Dorsey said of writing “Peace in the Valley,” “It was just before Hitler sent his war chariots into Western Europe in the late 1930s. I was on a train going through southern Indiana and saw horses, cows and sheep all grazing together in this little valley. Everything seemed so peaceful. It made me question, “What’s the matter with mankind? Why can’t men live in peace?” Out of those thoughts came “Peace in the Valley.”
Peace in the Valley became very popular throughout the United States and later other countries.
Dorsey mused saying, “I will never forget hearing a young, barefoot black man strolling down a dusty road on Andros Island, an out-of-the-way part of the Bahamas, singing Dorsey’s “Peace in the Valley.””
Dorsey died in Chicago on January 23, 1993. He is credited with writing more than 450 rhythm and blues and jazz songs. He also wrote more than 1,000 gospel songs.
Numerous artists have recorded songs written by Rev. Dorsey over the years.
President Lyndon B. Johnson requested Peace in the Valley be sung at his funeral shortly before his death. Anita Bryant sung the song at President Johnson’s funeral.
There are many versions of Peace In the Valley. One of the best known renditions is the one by Elvis Presley.