Behind the Song: O Happy Day

Anyone who has seen Sister Act 2 remembers the transformation made during the hand clapping rendition of O Happy Day.

Philip Doddridge was an 18th Century English Clergyman.  He wrote the hymn O Happy Day, that fixed my choice and set it to a melody made by J.A. Freylinghausen in 1704.

Edward F. Rimbault

In the mid-19th Century, Edward F. Rimbault wrote a new melody for the hymn and added a chorus.

In 1967, Edwin Hawkins provided a face lift for the song. First changing it from three four to four four time and retaining on the refrain or chorus.

Hawkins arrangement quickly became a standard and hundreds of artists have recorded it through the years.

“George Harrison has stated the song was a primary inspiration in the writing of his 1970 international hit single “My Sweet Lord.”

The song has appeared in a number of movies in the last two decades, including Big Momma’s House, Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, Rize, License to Wed, and Secretariat.

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