Tuesday, July 8, 2014

"Surely I Will" (comments, examples, & lyrics)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part I of a two part series on the Gospel songs "Surely I Will" and "I'm Bound For Mt. Zion".
This post features lyrics and videos/sound files of examples of the song "Surely I Will", although Example #2 given below could have been posted to the companion pancocojams post on the song "I'm Bound For Mt. Zion" Click for that post.

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to the composer of this song and thanks to all the vocalists/musicians those who are featured in these examples. Thanks also to the publishers of these examples on YouTube.

The lyrics to the songs "Surely I Will" and "I'm Bound For Mt. Zion" have so many similarities that it seems obvious to me that one song was the source of the other. The composer of "Surely I Will" is Albert E. Brumley, (1905–1977) indicates that Albert E. Brumley was an American shape note gospel music composer and publisher. As no racial identification is given for this composer in his Wikipedia article or elsewhere, I gather that he was Anglo-Anglo-American. Brumley is said to have composed 800 songs. Some of his songs that are favorites for Gospel singers (regardless of race) are "I'll Fly Away," "Turn Your Radio On," "If We Never Meet Again (This Side of Heaven)," "I'll Meet You In The Morning," and "He Set Me Free

In contrast , I can find no information on the composer/s of the song "I'm Bound For Mt Zion" or when that song was first recorded. While it's possible that Albert E, Brumley based his song on an earlier song or a contemporaneous song, it seems more likely that the "I'm Bound For Mt. Zion" songs are adaptations of the Brumley's song "Surely I Will".

It's interesting that there are YouTube examples of "Surely I Will" by Anglo-American and African American singers while the YouTube examples of "I'm Bound for Mt Zion appear to be only of African American singers.

(Albert E. Brumley; copyright Stamps-Baxter, 1956)

If working and praying has any reward,
Then surely some morning, I'll meet my dear Lord;
With God as my pilot, I'll climb the high hill,
If anyone makes it, then surely I will.

Surely I will, Lord; surely I will.
If anyone makes it, precious Lord,
Then surely I will.
I am bound for Mount Zion,
Far away on the hill,
If anyone makes it, (all the way home) then surely I will.

With faith as my weapon and hope as my stay,
The battle's half over, I'm well on my way;
Though I may grow weary, I'm traveling still,
If anyone makes it, then surely I will.


from the songbook The Best of Albert E. Brumley, Albert E. Brumley & Sons, 1966


Read that discussion for more text (lyric) examples of "Surely I Will" and for comments about this song, including this comment posted by GUEST,Truman Keesey (11 Jan 08 - 12:40 PM)
"I heard a song on black gospel radio by female, with lyrics, "If anybody makes it surely I will" in late 60's or 70's. It is not in the internet except in this page.

I heard it again and again, black female. Could be the same song. Popular in its day. Somebody into black gospel should be able to answer who it was sang it, which would lead to finding out the provenance."

These examples are presented in chronological order based on their posting date on YouTube, with the oldest examples given first etc.

Example #1: Iris DeMent--Surely I Will, Lord

kingofthecastle7, Uploaded on Aug 18, 2009

The first song of her set at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland, Ohio on Saturday, August 15, 2009; a song written by Alfred E. Brumley.
Click for the lyrics of this song as sung by Iris De Mint. Open mike, a commenter on that discussion thread wrote that "Iris Dement, one of the most celebrated country-folk performers of our day".

Example #2: Voices Of Faith - Surely I Will

DeepGospelSound, Uploaded on Jul 28, 2011

Deep Georgia gospel.
If you know anything about the performers, please get in touch. If you own the copyright to this recording or song and want to have it removed, please write to me and I will.
Here's my transcription of this rendition of this song. Additions and corrections are welcome.

[Only the soloist lines are given below. The soloist sings a line and the group repeats that exact line.]

Oh surely I will
Surely I will
Oh surely I will
And if anybody makes it
Surely I will

I’m bound for Mt Zion
Way high on the hill
And if anybody makes it
Surely I will

If anybody makes it
Oh I surely I will
I know that I will
And if anybody makes it
Then surely I will

Example #3: Surely I Will - The Dixie Knights

Sam Capps' Gospel Music Collection, Published on Mar 6, 2014

Dixie Knights were a popular 1950's gospel group from Knoxville TN. They appeared on TV and traveled with Archie Campbell, sang at the first radio gospel broadcast in Bonifay, FL, and were featured at the first National Gospel Convention hosted by Blackwood brothers and Statesman in Memphis TN. Although there are some 78 and 45 records included in this collection, most of these songs were taped on Reel to reel with a hand held microphone.

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  1. I noted in this post that because no information was given about Albert E. Brumley's race in his Wikipedia page, I gathered that he was White.

    In my opinion, the custom on Wikipedia and on other sites of only mentioning race for People of Color is highly problematic because that custom consciously or unconsciously presents White people as the template (normal, default) race, and all other people as "other than" and "less than" normal.

    1. I posted on your "Poontang Little Poontang Small" the other day which I found after hearing the Strother's song on Lomax's Black Appalachia compilation and getting it stuck in my head. Then today I was listening to Iris Dement and remembering how she opened her recent set in Ann Arbor with a beautiful song of which I could not remember the name. After some searching, I came back to this blog! Happenstance has brought me here twice in a span of a few days!

      In any case, I agree with your sentiment re: Wikipedia and race. But it seems in many cases, short articles don't mention race at all. I think if Brumley were black, it would probably not mention his race. For example, Willie Brown's article is about two or three times the length as Brumley's, but does not mention his race. However, he is included in the category of "African-American musicians" at the bottom of the page, whereas Brumley is simply included in Gospel musicians. One possible reason - besides the assumption of a white default - is that there is no thing as white music (though Wikipedia does have an article for anglo-american music), and the African-American Music article mentions that it is music developed by african-americans, but notes examples of whites playing this music. Thus in this sense there are white African-American Musicians, i.e. white musicians playing african-american styles of music. This relates to what Henry Louis Gates talks about in "Loose Canons":
      "Here, then, we see the poles of black canon formation, established firmly by 1849: Is "black" poetry racial in theme, or is "black" poetry any sort of poetry written by black people? This quandary has been at play in the tradition ever since." (p.26)

      The "African-American musicians" article takes the latter position of any musician who is african american, while the "African-American music" article takes the former position. Seems strange to me.

      Anyways, those were just some thoughts.

    2. Greetings, Jun Nakamura.

      I appreciate your comment. It's good to have confirmation that people are reading these posts.

      I also appreciate your comments regarding the meanings of the term "African American music" and similar terms. Upon reflection, when I use "African American music", I usually mean music that originated with African Americans and when I use "African American musicians" I mean musicians who are African Americans. But, as you have written, music that originated with African Americans is often performed by non-Americans, and those musicans could be described as White (or Asian, or non-Black Latino, or other Black, or other race/ethnicity performers of African American music.

      I think that most people who use the term "Black poetry" mean poetry composed by African Americans. That term is therefore open to misinterpretation because all Black people aren't African Americans. But also, "Black poetry" (or "black poetry" since capitalization is optional)may mean poetry about Black people (i.e.African Americans). Or it could also mean poetry that is composed and/or performed certain ways (usually using "Black" -African American- intonations, venacular, gestures. It's interesting that a black comedy has a different meaning -one that uses the negative connotations of the word "black" : "treats of morbid, tragic, gloomy, or grotesque situations as a major element of the plot".

      I also appreciate your comment about "white music". Besides the default assumption that all music is White (such as all folk music, and classical music, and opera), I think that many peeople- including me consider a certain type of music to be "white" because iof how that music sounds - its tune, the instruments used, and how the singers sound. And that's also how we wrongly guess about "black music".

      And yes, it is strange, and interesting, and reflective about how the concept of race has been used and is stll being used.

      Thanks again!

  2. I started doing research on this series because I woke up early in the morning with lyrics to a song that I recall singing in church in the early to mid 1960s. - or at least I thought that was what was being sung. Those lyrics are:
    "Surely we'll win
    Surely we'll win
    "cause I know we've got the Master
    on our side".

    I'm surprised that I can't find any mention of a Gospel song called "Surely We'll Win" anywhere on YouTube or anywhere else on the internet. Instead, I found lot of examples of "Surely We Will". I don't remember hearing the song "Surely We Will" or the song "I Am Bound For Mt. Zion" before. I don't remember any more words to that song. But come to think of it, the tune for "Surely We'll Win" reminds me of the tune used for the song "I'm Bound For Mt. Zion" (and the tempo) is moderately fast like some African American versions of that song..

    Now I wondering if faulty memory caused me to substitute the word "win" for the word "will". If so, I guess I also made up the last line "for I know we've got the Master on our side".

    I wonder if anyone has ever heard of a Gospel song called "Surely We'll Win".

    Even if this isn't a real song, I'm glad that I know it because those words have given me strength and courage in difficult times.

  3. Nice tune but that's about it. "Works" have nothing to do with making it to heaven. We are saved only by faith.