Monday, December 3, 2018

Example Of Old School Black Gospel: Rev. Charles Nicks & The St. James Adult Choir (Detroit, Michigan)- "Hold Back The Night"

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post showcases the early 1970s Gospel song "Hold Back The Night", written by Rev. Charles H. Nicks, and performed by the Adult choir of St. James AME Church (Detroit, Michigan). That choir was led by Rev. Nicks.

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Rev Charles Nicks for his religious and musical legacy. Thanks also to all those vocalists and musicians who are featured in these videos and thanks to the publisher of this videos on YouTube. In addition, thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.
Click for a 2014 pancocojams post that showcases this song. That post includes the video that is featured in this post and two additional videos.

"When Charles H. Nicks, Jr. became the organist for the St. James Baptist Church in Detroit in 1957, a thirty-year success story was begun, one which continued throughout his pastorate of the church. His recordings with the St. James Adult Choir, which captured the "feel" of the traditional Black Baptist church, helped to strengthen Detroit's position as a major center for gospel music.

Rev. Nicks was born in Lincoln, NE, July 18,1941, to the Reverend Charles Nicks, Sr., a Baptist pastor, and Alliece Nicks, a pianist who was his first musical influence. After extensive training in classical and gospel music, Rev. Nicks developed on organ style that attracted students from around the country who wanted to learn how he made the Hammond organ "talk."

A founding member of the Gospel Music Workshop of America, he was also organist for the Harold Smith Majestics and a respected record producer. Rev. Nicks, who died in 1988, was celebrated for composing and/or singing several gospel classics, including "He's So Real," "Something About God's Grace," and "I Really Love the Lord."

Under the direction of Jimmy Dowell, the St. James Adult Choir continues to perform in the traditional style that first brought them and Rev. Nicks into the national spotlight."

"Rev. Charles H. Nicks, Jr., was called as the fifth pastor of St. James Missionary Baptist Church in April, 1972

The following achievements for the Lord were realized under the pastorship of Rev. Nicks:
...Leader of the National Baptist Church Music Department - Artist for countless musical recordings - Facilitator for may nationally televised productions - Vice President and leader for the Gospel Music Workshop of America [GMWA} - Leader of many other local and national organizations to numerous to be counted"...

SHOWCASE VIDEO: Rev. Charles Nicks & The St. James Adult Choir - Hold Back The Night

Marcel West, Uploaded on Jun 4, 2008

One of my personal favs!! Lead by Rev. Charles Nicks & Sis. Jean Frederick

(composed by Rev. Charles Nicks)*

Here's a comment from the comment thread for one of the videos that was published in the 2014 pancocojams post on this song whose link is given above (I'm sorry I didn't note which video that is)
k cooper, 2008
"I was a member of the St. James Adult Choir. Here are the lyrics to HOLD BACK THE NIGHT: Chorus: Hold Back the Night give me strength to fight. I'll do your will if you just say to my storm, peace be still. O Lord, I love your name, every day you're just the same. I'll be alright, if you Hold Back the Night. Verse: The storm is raging all around. Satan is trying to pull me down. Lord you told me, in your word I could abide. So stretch forth your mighty hand and Hold Back the Night."
Here are those lyrics in song format:

Chorus [sung by the Choir]
Hold back the night.
Give me strength to fight.
I'll do Your will
If You just say to my storm
“Peace be still.”
Oh Lord, I love Your name.
Every day You're just the same.
I'll be all right
If You just hold back the night.


Solo: The storm is raging
All around.
Satan keeps tryin
To pull me down.
But Lord, You told me
In Your word I could abide.
So stretch forth Your mighty hand
And hold back the night.


[Choir sings the chorus with the soloist vamping.]
Vamping: To improvise a musical accompaniment, to improvise (an accompaniment, for example) for a solo, to improvise simple accompaniment or variation of a tune.

*Online information about the Gospel song "Hold Back The Night" is very difficult to find. However, I happened upon this website That site gives suggested songs & their composers for a Men's Day and lists “Charles H. Nicks, Jr as the composer of "Hold Back The Night".

"Hold Back The Night" is also the title of a 1990 Gospel album by Rev. Charles H. Nicks & The St. James Adult Choir. That album features that song and other songs that would now be considered "old school Gospel".

It seems very clear to me that "Hold Back The Night" Gospel song lyrics directly refer to the New Testament verses which recount the story of Jesus calming the waves that threatened to overturn the boat that he and his disciples were traveling in on the Sea of Galilee. This is the same Biblical story that is the theme of Rev. James Cleveland and the Angelic Choir of Nutley, New Jersey's hugely popular 1962 or 1963 record "Peace Be Still". Notice the inclusion of the words "Peace Be Still" in the Gospel song "Hold Back The Night".

Click for a link to that Biblical story told in contemporary Standard American English. Also, click for a sound file of that "Peace Be Still" record. By the way, that Rev. James Cleveland recording also features keyboardist Billy Preston, who was very highly regarded for his accompaniment on Gospel recordings as well as his popular secular records.

These comments are given in relative consecutive order based on their publishing date with the oldest comment given first, except for replies. Numbers are assigned for referencing purposes only.

1. BrothaRollins, 2008
"I love this song! Rev. Nicks was one of the greatest organist on this earth"

2. Marcel West, 2008
..."... this is Gospel Music at it's best!! Rev. Nicks & St. James were the epitome of Detroit Gospel.

Be Blessed."

3. newdonna39, 2009
"My choir used to sing this song when I was young...this is REAL gospel music!"

4. BigBlueBeast, 2009
"Our church's choir haven't sang this song in years!"

5. barbara19ish, 2018
"No church plays this type of music anymore. and its 2018."

6. Marcus Burnett, 2009
"Amen...from a fellow A.M.E 'er"
St. James (Detroit, Michigan) whose choir is shown singing this song is an A.M.E. church (African Methodist Episcopal), a Christian denomination.

7. emonique989, 2009
"We sang this at Christ Fellowship Baptist Church in Saginaw, MI when I was little."

8. aepps20012001, 2009
"Sang Jean!!What a voice! I miss ya. Remember I used to play this out at the store!"
"Sang" here is an African American Vernacular English word meaning "to sing very well, especially to sing soulfully very well". When used as a present tense exclamation, "sang" means "Continue singing very well".

9. Richard Moss,lll, 2010
"these the songs we need to bring back in the church! i love love this song!!"

10. Helen Thomas, 2010
"This is the real deal of gospel music. The great Rev. Charles Nicks and the St. James Choir. I'm from Detroit so I got to experience the blessing of this great pastor and choir. This what you call real gospel music.
Thanks Marcell for not letting us forget. May God Bless You!!
Helen Thomas, Galilee Bapt. Church "

11. Maurice Stewart, 2010
"Here is some old school gospel. If your going through anything in your life listen to this word in song. Peace."

12. aepps20012001, 2011
"Used to wear this song out. I worked at Joyful Sounds Gospel Store with Jean, the woman singing lead vocals on this song. Those were the days!!"

13. mussaqlover1, 2012
"Yes Lord a true Classic! Thanks for posting"

14. mussaqlover1, 2012
"one of my all time favorites..nothing like true old school gospel that hits home!!! Thanks for the post!!!"

15. Yolana Wakefield-Wilson, 2013
"Like they used to say when I was a child, "This song is my testimony..."

16. jamesdwimb, 2013
"Bone stirring!!"

17. Dior Nashae, 2014
"This was my great grandmother's solo at church, and she would bring the house down every time she sang it!!!!! Thank God for Old School Gospel!!!!!"

18. HolyGhostRevival7, 2015
"Songs like this has meaning and you can understand the words; they reach the soul. People can't get saved today off of the so-called gospel songs. We are truly in a sad time, where people have thrown Jesus out of their services. Thank you for posting songs like you post. God bless you in Jesus name"

19. David Robinson, 2015
"I love the classic, soulful gospel music of Rev. Charles Nicks, Jr. I have been in music ministry for almost 40 years. I grew up in Detroit, but did not start playing gospel music on piano and organ until my college years at Morehouse College in Atlanta. I played at the Shrines of the Black Madonna where we sang (and I taught) many of his songs. Even in churches where I play after that time period, I still teach and play those songs for choirs - O Give Thanks," "I'm So Grateful," "Take the Name of Jesus" (I wish I had that album), "If You Ever Needed the Lord," "I Really Love the Lord," "Search Me Lord," "There's a Stranger In Town" (RIP Ortheia Barnes-Kennerly), "I Need Him," "Never Turn Back," "I Love to Praise His Name," "I'm Free," "Come and Go With Me to My Father's House," "Come Unto Jesus," "There Is No Failure in God," "He's So Real," "These Are the Times," and the list goes on. My father who worked at the University of Michigan as assistant admissions director and in charge of minority recruitment would come to Rev. Nick's church and recruit students. His songs are popular here in Atlanta as well as Detroit. Rev. Nicks is certainly a legend. I had the pleasure to attend their "O Give Thanks" concert in 1978 at Detroit's Ford Auditorium."

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