Monday, December 3, 2018

Clara Ward And The Clara Ward Singers - "Hold Back The Tears" (Gospel sound file and lyrics)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post provides information about Gospel singer Clara Ward and The Clara Ward Singers.

This post also showcases a sound file of the Gospel song "Hold Back The Tears" as sung by Clara Ward and The Clara Ward Singers. My transcription of this song is included in this post. Additions and corrections of this song are welcome.

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Clara Ward and The Clara Ward Singers for their musical legacy. Thanks also to all who are quoted in this post and thanks to the publisher of this sound file on YouTube.


Joe Guarino, Published on Jul 7, 2015

A good old fashioned Ward song; You can tell Sister Clara wrote those words with such conviction.

"Clara Mae Ward[1] (April 21, 1924 – January 16, 1973)[4][5] was an American gospel artist who achieved great artistic and commercial success during the 1940s and 1950s, as leader of The Famous Ward Singers. A gifted singer and arranger, Ward adopted the lead-switching style, previously used primarily by male gospel quartets, creating opportunities for spontaneous improvisation and vamping by each member of the group, while giving virtuoso singers such as Marion Williams the opportunity to perform the lead vocal in songs such as "Surely, God Is Able" (among the first million-selling gospel hits), "How I Got Over" and "Packin' Up".


In 1963, Clara Ward was the second gospel singer to sing gospel songs on Broadway in Langston Hughes' play Tambourines To Glory(The first being her former group members, which were known as the Stars of Faith, which starred Langston Hughes in the first Gospel stage play and first play that featured an all black cast to be produced on Broadway, The Black Nativity.). She was also the play's musical director.

1953–1972: The Clara Ward Singers
Ward was the first gospel singer to sing with a 100-piece symphony orchestra in the 1960s. The Clara Ward Singers recorded an album together on the Verve label, V-5019, The Heart, The Faith, The Soul of Clara Ward, and the Ward Singers performed their music live in Philadelphia with the city's Symphony and the Golden Voices Ensemble. Ward sang backup for pop artists with her sister Willa's background group, most notably on Dee Dee Sharp's hit, "Mashed Potato Time", which reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1962. In 1969, Ward recorded an album for Capitol Records, Soul and Inspiration, consisting of pop songs from Broadway plays, Hollywood movies….


The Clara Ward Singers toured in Australia, Japan, Europe, Indonesia, and Thailand during the late-1960s through the early-1970s. They had a one-day TV special in London, England. They were in constant demand on American television programs and appeared on The Mike Douglas Show over a dozen times. They appeared on Oral Roberts' Country Roads TV special, later released as a soundtrack album. Clara continued to perform at her mother's church, the Miracle Temple of Faith for All People in Los Angeles, California, as well as at Victory Baptist Church. Her mother, Gertrude Ward, also had a popular religious radio program in the Los Angeles market.


In 1977, Ward was honored posthumously at the Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York City and her surviving sister, Willa, accepted the award in her honor. In July 1998, in recognition of her status, the United States Postal Service issued a 32-cent stamp with her image. The stamp can still be purchased with a CD and other gospel singers' stamps online.[7] Ward's beautiful alto (with a distinctly nasal tone) in gospel songs and the Methodist hymns of the 18th century continues to delight music lovers.[citation needed] She had a marked influence on later singers, such as her protegee Aretha Franklin, who adopted her moan for secular songs and who saluted Ward in Amazing Grace, the gospel album she made with James Cleveland in the early 1970s.

(Clara Ward)


Children hold
[hold back, hold back the tears]
My God knows
[God knows how much you can bear]
Look to the heavens
[Look to the heavenly hills]
Oh yeah, and hold
[Hold back the tears]

Oh, hold
[Hold back, hold back the tears]
My God knows
[God knows how much you can bear]
Look to the heavens
[Look to the heavenly hills]
Yeah, and hold
[Hold back the tears]

Verse #1
I wandered when walking home one day
I let Satan have his way
I laid all night in the arms of sin
till five and the misery ends
[Oooh! Ahh!]
Well, I looked like justice day
{Group hums or continues with similar refrain after soloist’s line until the end of verse]
I didn’t have a friend to pray
I fell on my knees crying “Lord”, oh
Hold back the tears

Well, well hold
[Hold back, hold back the tears]

Verse #2
My sins became tears of love
Washed my skin as white as snow
I readied my feet on the Jericho road
[group hums or continues with similar refrain after soloist’s line until the end of this verse]
And I’ll never turn back no more
Oh! He heard my pleas and led me out
And now I know how to sing and shout
I’ll tell the story here and at the end
And I’ll hold back the tears

I attempted this transcription of the Clara Ward Singer's Gospel song "Hold Back The Night" because I couldn't find the lyrics online. However, I'm not sure about the accuracy of my transcriptions for the verses. Please add additions and/or corrections to this transcription in the comment section below. Thanks!

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1 comment:

  1. I remember hearing "Hold Back The Tears" sung by the Gospel choir that my mother belonged to in my Baptist church in Atlantic City, New Jersey (probably in the early 1960s). I thought the title was "Children, Hold Back The Tears".

    Before looking up this song for this post, I didn't know that this song was sung by the Clara Ward Singers.

    I also don't think that I ever knew the words to the verses of "Hold Back The Tears" and, as a Black person, the "washed my skin whiter than snow" lyrics are cringe worthy.

    That said, throughout my life I've often sung the chorus of "Hold Back The Tears" to myself when I'm going through difficult times.

    My interpretation of the words "Hold back the tears" is "Don't cry. Don't despair. Everything's going to be alright because God is there for you (God's got your back.) So, look to the heavens and don't despair.