Saturday, March 1, 2014

"Didn't It Rain" (Gospel song lyrics & examples)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post presents lyrics and four YouTube examples of the African American Gospel song "Didn't It Rain". Information about Roberta Martin, the composer of this song, is also included in this post.

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Roberta Martin, the composer of this song. Thanks also to the featured artists and the publishers of the videos that are featured in this post. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post.

"Roberta Evelyn Martin (February 12, 1907 – January 18, 1969) was an American gospel composer, singer, pianist, arranger and choral organizer, helped launch the careers of many other gospel artists through her group, The Roberta Martin Singers.[1]

Born in Helena, Arkansas on February 12, 1907, Martin moved to Chicago with her family in 1917, where she studied piano. Although a high school teacher inspired her to dream of becoming a concert pianist, her future course was changed after accompanying the Young People's Choir at Ebenezer Baptist Church. She came into contact with Thomas A. Dorsey, known as the Father of Gospel Music, through her work as the pianist for the youth choir. With Dorsey's help, she and Theodore Frye organized the Martin-Frye 1933. Martin renamed the group the Roberta Martin Singers in 1936 and added Bessie Folk, Myrtle Scott and Delois Barrett Campbell to the group in the 1940s. The group set the standard for the gospel choir and mixed group, and had an extremely successful recording career, featuring such hits as "Only A Look," and "Grace."[2

She composed about seventy songs, arranged and published 280 gospel songs, and reached and inspired thousands of listeners selling sheet music. Her compositions include "He Knows Just How Much We Can Bear," and "God Is Still on the Throne" (1959), "Let It Be" (1950), and "Just Jesus and Me" (1966). Martin earned six Gold records[4] and the Roberta Martin Singers sang at Gian-Carlo Menotti's Spoleto Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy, in 1963. Her great contribution to the history of gospel music was her development of a distinctive gospel-piano style and the special sound of her group, which integrated for the first time men and women into the gospel chorus during the mid-40s when she brought female voices into her all-male group, which she accompanied on piano.[5]"...

(composed by Roberta Martin)

Didn't it rain, children
Talk 'bout rain, oh, my Lord
Didn't it, didn't it, didn't it oh my Lord
Didn't it rain?

Didn't it rain, children
Talk 'bout rain, oh, my Lord
Didn't it, didn't it, didn't it, oh my Lord
Didn't it rain?

It rained 40 days, 40 nights without stopping
Noah was glad when the rain stopped dropping
Knock at the window, a knock at the door
Crying brother Noah can't you take on more
Noah cried no, you're full of sin
God got the key and you can't get in

Just listen how it's rainin'
Will you listen how it's rainin'
Just listen, how it's rainin'
All day, all night
All night, all day

Just listen how it's rainin'
Just listen how it's rainin'
Just listen how it's rainin'

Some moaning, some groaning
Some groaning, some praying
Well, a oh
Didn't it rain till dawn
Rain, oh my Lord

Didn't it, didn't it
Didn't it, oh
Oh, my Lord
Didn't it rain

Ooh, God sent a raven to spread the news
To hoist his wings and away he flew
And to the north, and to the south
And to the east, and to the west
All day, all night, all night, all day

Well just listen how it's rainin'
Well just listen how it's rainin'
Oh, listen how it's rainin'

Some prayin', some cryin'
Some runnin', some moanin'
Will you listen how it's rainin'
Just listen how it's rainin'
Just listen how it's rainin'

Didn't it rain, children
Rain oh my Lord
Didn't it, didn't it, didn't it, oh
Oh, my Lord, didn't it rain
Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain

Source: *

*I made minor changes to that transcription]

These videos are presented in chronological order based on their posting dates with the oldest videos given first.

Example #1: Didn't It Rain - James Cleveland & Chicago Metro GMWA Mass Choir (Sallie Martin)

matthew5and9 Uploaded on Dec 20, 2008

James Cleveland ministers in Chicago with Metro GMWA Mass Choir and a cast of all time greats

Example #2: Mahalia Jackson - Didn't It Rain

iamlikeasea, Uploaded on Oct 22, 2010

Example #3: Sister Rosetta Tharpe - Didn't It Rain

180boring Uploaded on Jul 15, 2011

Rosetta Tharpe plays 'Didn't It Rain'. Recorded in Manchester, England in 1964.

Taken from the DVD 'The American Folk Blues Festival: The British Tours'

Example #4: LRBC 21 - Ruthie Foster Gospel Jam - Didn't it Rain Children!

rd350c, Published on Oct 30, 2013

The Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise #21 - 10/18 - 10/25 2013.

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  1. Back in the early to mid 1950s my sister and I spent time at our neighbor's house when my mother went to work. One of the things we enjoyed was going through our neighbors' old record collection they kept in their garage. They had a variety of old 78s and 45s, and told us we could play any record we wanted, which would kept us occupied for hours. Without really knowing it, I was developing an eclectic taste in music.

    One of those old 45s was "Didn't It Rain". We had never heard that old gospel style before and it made us want to dance. When I got older and entered college, I was a music major, mainly focusing on classical music, but with forays into other musical styles.

    About 15 years ago, or so, I sang in the Los Medanos College Gospel Choir, under the gifted leadership of sylvester henderson. You can see him rehearsing his choir (of a more recent time) at this link:

    That experience was a thrill, and left me with an enthusiastic appreciation of black gospel choral music. Today I happened across this site while I was doing a search to see if I could rediscover that old recording of "Didn't It Rain". Rev. James Cleveland says in the video that Sallie Martin recorded it in 1943. That could very well have been the record my sister and I heard. His rendition came the closest to the feel I got from the original recording.

    Anyway, I'm thankful you have posted the info on this song. It touched me when I was a boy, and now I've replaced vague recollections with a bit of history. Thanks and God bless!

    Michael D. Day

    1. Greetings, Michael!

      Thanks for sharing your comment. How you developed an eclectic taste in music by experiencing different music styles via your neighbor's collection of old records reminds of how I developed an interest in world cultures through looking at my neighbor and former techer's old collection of National Geographic magazines and other old magazines.

      I'm glad you found this blog.

      Here's a link to that video of the Los Medanos College Gospel Choir directed by Sylvester Henderson:
      That video gave me an idea for a future pancocojams post on college/university Gospel Choirs.

      Thanks again!