Behind the Song: The Uncloudy Day

 

The Unclouded Day is a popular gospel song, especially with quartets and church groups.

I was surprised to discover the song was written in 1879. The song was written by Josiah Kelley Alwood.

Josiah Kelley Alwood

He wrote in A Rainbow at Midnight and A Song with Morning in 1896, the following account that inspired the song:

“It was a balmy night in August 1879, when returning from a debate in Spring Hill, Ohio, to my home in Morenci, Michigan, about 1:00 a.m. I saw a beautiful rainbow north by northwest against a dense black nimbus cloud. The sky was all perfectly clear except this dark cloud which covered about forty degrees of the horizon and extended about halfway to the zenith. The phenomenon was entirely new to me and my nerves refreshed by the balmy air and the lovely sight. Old Morpheus was playing his sweetest lullaby. Another mile of travel, a few moments of time, a fellow of my size was ensconced in sweet home and wrapped in sweet sleep. A first class know-nothing till rosy-sweet morning was wide over the fields.
To awake and look abroad and remember the night was to be filled with sweet melody. A while at the organ brought forth a piece of music now known as “The Unclouded Day.” A Day and a half was bestowed on the four stanzas.”

Alwood’s son, Rev. O. G. Alwood recalled the writing of the song in the March 12,1924 edition of Christian Conservator. A small part of what he recalled of the creation of this song is:
“On the way home he saw an unusual sight – a rainbow by moonlight. He was a sound sleeper and awoke the next morning refreshed and feeling comfortable both physically and spiritually. The inspiration came to write and so the lines soon took form. The extent of his ability as a musician was to drum a tune “by ear” with one finger on the very modest Estey organ the home afforded. This he proceeded to do to provide an air for his song. Soon we heard him singing some new strange strains and words as new. A new song had been made.
Some time after he met an old acquaintance, Mr. J.F. Kinsey, a vocal music teacher, who inquired if Father had anything new in music to suggest. So Father sang his song and Kinsey asked the privilege of arranging the music for publication…Nothing was ever received for the song and yet some attempt has been made to discredit Father’s claim to authorship. but I well remember seeing him writing the words and then “drum” out the tune on the organ. We at home were the first who ever heard it sung.”

The song has been recorded by numerous performers including The Staple Singers, Willie Nelson, Johnny Gash, Brenda Lee, Randy Travis, Doc Watson, Don Henley, and Brad Paisley.

 

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