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Saturday, March 9, 2013

Clara Ward Singers, Mahalia Jackson - How I Got Over (lyrics)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post showcases a version of the Gospel song "How I Got Over" as sung by the Clara Ward Singers, and as sung by Mahalia Jackson. Lyrics to these two versions of "How I Got Over" are also included in this post.

This post also includes brief information & a link to more information about Clara Ward, and about Mahalia Jackson. I've also included brief information about and a link to more information about Rev. W. Herbert Brewster, an African American minister & composer of more than 200 Gospel song who is alleged to have composed "How I Got Over".

Information about the meaning of "how I got over" is also included in this post, and in my comment below.

The content of this post is presented for religious, inspirational, historical, and aesthetic purposes.

All rights remain with their owner.

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INFORMATION ABOUT THE SONG "HOW I GOT OVER" [revised January 18, 2016]
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_I_Got_Over
"How I Got Over is a Gospel hymn composed and published in 1951 by Clara Ward (1924-1973). Notable recordings of this work have been made by Mahalia Jackson (1961, winner of the Grammy Award for Best Soul Gospel Performance in 1976), Aretha Franklin (1972 on her Amazing Grace live record album), and the Blind Boys of Alabama (2008 album Down in New Orleans). It was performed by Mahalia Jackson at the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963 before 250,000 people.[1]"...
-snip-
The Wikipedia article on "How I Got Over" credits Clara Ward as its composer. However, read this exchange on this video's viewer comment thread: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yU-herUo23I

urbaandiultra, 2010
"Y'all do know that Clara wrote this song right? I love both Clara's and Mahalia's performance of this song. In any case, they are both singing praise and glory!"

Reply:
JayEm86, 2010
"@urbaandiultra, actually, Rev. William Herbert Brewster wrote this song. Clara came along and did this version and the song really took off. Then, she claimed it as her own. That hurt Rev. Brewster's feelings, but he never sued or anything like that."
-snip-
Also, read the posts in the comment section below about Rev. Dr. William Herbert Brewster.

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INFORMATION ABOUT THIS COMPOSER AND THESE SINGERS [order revised January 18, 2016]
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._Herbert_Brewster
"William Herbert Brewster (July 2, 1897 – October 14, 1987) was an influential African American Baptist minister, composer, dramatist, singer, poet and community leader...
Among his more than 200 published songs are the gospel standards "Move On Up A Little Higher" (Mahalia Jackson's first hit in 1948) and "Surely, God Is Able" (a 1950 hit for The Ward Singers)"...

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clara_Ward
"Clara Ward (April 21, 1924 – January 16, 1973)[1][2] was an American gospel artist who achieved great success, both artistic and commercial, in the 1940s and 1950s as leader of The Famous Ward Singers."...

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahalia_Jackson
"Mahalia Jackson ... October 26, 1911[1] – January 27, 1972) was an American gospel singer. Possessing a powerful contralto voice,[2] she was referred to as "The Queen of Gospel".[1][3][4] Jackson became one of the most influential gospel singers in the world and was heralded internationally as a singer and civil rights activist."...

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WHAT THE PHRASE "HOW I GOT OVER" MEANS
In Mahalia Jackson's version of "How I Got Over", that phrase is sometimes given as "how did I make it over". In the context of these songs, "to get over" means to "overcome" or "to prevail" (in spite of experiencing many hardships).

In these Gospel songs, entering heaven is the reward for prevailing. However, in my experience, the phrase "how I got over" is also interpreted among African Americans to refer to making it through the difficulties of everyday life such as poverty, racism, troubled relationships, and serious illnesses.

Another way of saying either "how I got over" or "how I made it over" is "How did I make it through all the difficulties that I faced in my life."

Although it's not sung that way, particularly in Mahalia Jackson's version of that song, "How I got over" appears to me to be a rhetorical question, i.e. "How did I make it over?"; similar to a person asking herself or himself "How did I do all that?"
But, of the two meanings for the word "wonder": 1. to be curious about something and 2. to be in a state of wonderment (to marvel at something; to be amazed at something), I think that the second meaning fits the tone of the song "How I Got Over" much more than the first meaning. In that sense, the woman singing is marveling over how she made it through the hardships that she faced in her life. Of course, the song provides the answer to this question (and/or to this marveling) - It was with God's help that the woman got over.

Information about the secular meanings for the phrase "getting over" is found in my comment to this post.

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FEATURED EXAMPLES AND LYRICS

Example #1: Clara Ward Singers - 1968



Published on Jul 1, 2012

Can't. Touch. This. Fierceness!
-snip-
LYRICS
(Composed by Rev. Dr. W. Herbert Brewster, As sung by the Clara Ward Singers) [credit revised January 18, 2016]

Lead singer: How I got over
Other group members (How I got over)
How I got over
(How I got over)
Oh, my soul looks back and wonder
(Oh)
Entire group-How I got over.
[repeat]
Oh, As soon as I can see Jesus
(Oh yes)
The Man that made me free.
(Oh yes)
The Man that bled and suffered
(Oh yes)
And died for you and me.
(Oh yes)
I thank Him because He taught me
(Oh yes)
I thank Him because He brought me
(Oh yes)
Thank Him because He kept me
(Oh yes)
I thank Him because He never left me
(Oh yes)
Thank Him for the Holy Bible
(Oh yes)
Thank Him for good old revival.
(Oh yes)
Thank Him for heavenly vision.
(Oh yes)
Thank Him for old time religion
(Oh yes)
Well, I’m gonna sing
(Hallelujah)
Well, you know I’m gonna shout
(My troubles over)
Well, I thank Him
(Oh)
For all He’s done for me.
(For all He’s done for me)
Well, you know I’m gonna wear a diadem
(Oh yes)
In the new Jerusalem.
(Oh yes)
Gonna walk the street of gold
(Oh yes)
In the homeland of the soul.
(Oh yes)
Gonna view the host in white
(Oh yes)
Who traveled both day & night.
(Oh yes)
Coming up from every nation
(Oh yes)
On the way to the great coronation.
(Oh yes)
Coming from the North, South, East, and West
(Oh yes)
On their way to the land of rest.
(Oh yes)
Well, I’m gonna join the Heavenly choir
(Oh yes)
Gonna sing and never get tired.
(Oh yes)
You know, I’m gonna sing
(Hallelujah)
Yes, you know I’m gonna shout
(My troubles over)
Oh, I thank Him
(Oh)
For all He’s done for me.
(For all He’s done for me)
Oh, how I got over
(How I got over)
How I got over
(How I got over)
Oh, my soul looks back and wonder
How I got over.
-snip-
Transcription by Azizi Powell from the sound file. Additions & corrections are welcome.

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Example #2: Mahalia Jackson--How I got over LIVE



Elfeco, Uploaded on May 13, 2007

Mahalia Jackson live in Chicago a favorite of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Mahalia sang this at the march on washington just before King gave the I have a dream speech
-snip-
According to commenter this film clip was made at New Bethel in the Bronx, NY, 1963 as part of a televised special called, "My Soul is a Witness".

LYRICS
(Composed by Rev. Dr. W. Herbert Brewster, As sung by Mahalia Jackson)[credit revised January 18, 2016]

How I got over.
How did I make it over.
You know, my soul looks back and wonder
How I did I made it over.
How did I make it over,
Moving on over all these years.
You know, my soul look back and wonder
How did I make it over.

Tell me how we got over, Lord.
[We] had a mighty hard time
Comin on over.
You know, my soul looks back and wonder
How did we make it over.

Tell me how we got over, Lord.
I been fallin and risin all these years.
But you know, my soul looks back and wonder
How did I make it over.

Hmmm, but as soon as I can see Jesus
The Man that died for me
The Man that bled and suffered
And He hung on Calvary.
And I wanna thank Him for how He bought me.
And I wanna thank God for how He taught me.
Oh, thank my God how He kept me.
I’m gonna thank Him because He never left me.
And I’m gonna thank God for old time religion.
And I’m gonna thank God for giving me vision.
One day I will join the heavenly choir.
And I’mma sing and never get tired.
And then I’m gonna sing and shout around God’s altar
And I’m gonna shout “All my trouble’s over”.
You know I’ve gotta thank God,
Thank Him for being so good to me, oh yes.

How I made it over, y’all.
I had to cry in the midnight hour,
Comin on over.
But you know my soul look back and wonder
How did I make it over.

Tell me, how I made it over, oh y’ll know,
Fallin and risin all these years.
You know my soul look back and wonder
How did I make it over.

Hmmm, I’m gonna wear a diamond garment
In that new Jerusalem.
I’m gonna walk the streets of gold.
It’s in that homeland of the soul.
I’m gonna view the host in white.
They been travelin day and night.
Comin up from every nation.
They on their way to the great coronation.
They comin from the North, South, East, and West.
They on their way to a land of rest.
And then we gonna join the heavenly choir.
You know, we gonna sing and never get tired.
And then we gonna sing somewhere ‘round God altar.
And then we gonna shout “All our troubles over!”
You know, we got to thank God
Thank Him for being so good to me.

You know, I come to thank God, this evening.
I come to thank Him this evening.
You know, all night long God kept His angels
watchin over me.
And early this morning, early this morning
God told His angels,
God said “Touch her, in my name”.
God said, “Touch her, in my name”.
I rose this morning.
I rose this morning.
I rose this morning.
I feel like shoutin.
I feel like shoutin.
I feel like shoutin.
I feel like shoutin.
I feel like shoutin.
I feel like shoutin.
I feel like shoutin.
I just got to thank God.
I just got to thank God.
I just got to thank God.
I just got to thank Him.
Thank God for bein so
So, God’s been good to me, yes.
-snip-
Transcription by Azizi Powell from the film clip. Additions & corrections are welcome.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT AND THANKS
Thank to the Clara Ward Singers, Mahalia Jackson, and Rev. W. Herbert Brewster for their musical legacy. My thanks also to the uploaders of this sound file and this video.

Thank you for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.

5 comments:

  1. Here's a definition for "getting over" that was submitted to urbandictionary.com by A Lone Jazzman Dec 3, 2011
    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Getting%20Over

    "Not to be confused with "get over it," to "get over" is 70's African American slang for getting through the hard times. The opposite of "going under," when a person gets over they manage not to fall apart when things are bad.

    In a more simple use, "getting over" occasionally was used to mean dealing with bills/taxes and getting out of the red.

    "We gotta get over before we go under." James Brown

    "United we can get over, and yet we're still apart." Willie Hutch

    Sentence: "There's nothing I won't do if it means getting over for another day."
    -snip-
    Also, here's a definition of the African American Vernacular English phrase "to get over on" someone from http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=66952 by nycphotography. 11th November 2005

    "To 'get over on' someone is to take (unfair) advantage of them Usually by trickery or deception, [or] by intimidation.

    [Other ways of saying this are]
    Pull a fast one.
    Pull the wool over their eyes.
    -snip-
    Another meaning for "getting over on" someone-or at least a definition for "trying to get over on someone"- is to tell a lie to someone (tell a story) and hope that person "buys your story". If that person "falls for your story" (believes you), you "got over on" him or her.

    For example, a student can try to get over on his teacher by saying that his dog ate his homework. But it's unlikely that the teacher would go for that old excuse. Or a girl can fake being sick so that she doesn't have to go to school. If that girl's parents buys that act, then she got over on her parents.

    These definitions are entirely different meanings of "getting over" than what those words mean in the "How I Got Over" Gospel songs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I want to amend my last statement to say that each of these African American vernacular meanings for "getting over" have to do with being successful at something.

      The "How I got over" phrase in the Gospel songs (the earliest of which is from 1951) refers to successfully overcoming hardships.

      Delete
  2. How about neither of these women wrote this song. Dr. William Herbert Brewster wrote this song. He was the Pastor of East Trigg Baptist Church in Memphis Tennessee. He was not only a song writer, but a theologian a poet and playwright, preacher, teacher and historian wrote this song. I know this because he was my grandfather. It's really disturbing that he does not get the credit that he deserves for not only this song but all the rest of them as well

    ReplyDelete
  3. And yes for the record they both knew of him and still continue to take the credit even after they both apologized

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kentosha Evans, thank you for sharing confirming information that your grandfather, Dr. William Herbert Brewster composed "How I Got Over". As you see, I referred to him in this post.

      I revised the lyrics portion of this post to better reflect that fact.

      I'm very sorry that he usually isn't given the proper respect and credit for his wonderful religious musical legacy.

      Hopefully, this post will help rectify that.


      Best wishes.

      Delete