Behind the Song: Mansion over the Hilltop

Mansion Over the Hilltop was written by Ira F. Stanphill in 1949.

Ira Stanphill

He is described as a gifted musician, who had been playing the piano, organ and other instruments since he was ten years old. He was composing songs and singing by the age of seventeen.

He went on to become a pastor and was known as a singing evangelists.

Ira Stanphill was inspired to write Mansion Over the Hilltop by another minister, either Rev. Albert Ott or Rev. Gene Martin. Whether during a sermon or conversation is unclear, but Stanphill heard the following story:

“One day a wealthy man facing bankruptcy took a drive through the rural part of the country. As he passed one particular house it caught his attention. It was needing a paint job and repairs of all kinds. The broken window glasses were replaced with oil paper. Many shingles as well as part of the roof were missing which made him wonder how the house was even still standing. A young girl about the age of 8 or 9 and poorly dressed was playing in the front yard. The man was compelled to stop and talk to the young girl. In their conversation, he mentioned how sorry he was that she lived in such a poor surrounding. The little girl excitedly asked him, “Why haven’t you heard? My daddy just inherited a fortune and he’s building us a mansion just over that hill over there. Don’t know when it will be done, but I won’t have to live in this house forever.”

Stanphill wrote the song that evening and was singing his new song within a few days {if not the day he wrote it}.

Ira Stanphill was inducted into the GMA Hall of Fame in 1981 and published his autobiography, This Side of Heaven in 1983. By the time of his death on December 30, 1993, he had written over 550 gospel songs. Some of his better known songs include I Know Who Holds Tomorrow, Follow Me, Room at the Cross For You, Suppertime and He Knows What He’s Doin’ All the Time.

Elvis Presley recorded this song for his gospel album.

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