Bucks County Herald

Chip Mergott: Music Minute

“Oh Happy Day”



Edwin Hawkins used an old hymn as the starting point for his gospel classic “Oh Happy Day,” which he recorded privately with a 40-voice youth choir. He asked his friend, an experienced singer named Dorothy Morrison, to sing lead and they recorded it at the Ephesian Church in Berkeley, Calif.

A few weeks later an entire album had been recorded and pressed, and Hawkins gave 10 copies to every choir member to sell for five dollars each.

But in early 1969 KSAN-FM in San Francisco started playing “Oh Happy Day.”

By April of ‘69 it was #4 on the Billboard charts, and in the next two years would influence Paul Simon’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord,” Godspell’s “Day by Day,” and Melanie’s “Lay Down” (Candles in the Rain).

By the way do you recall the great gospel choir on Melanie’s song? It’s The Edwin Hawkins Singers.

The Mergott Music Minute is heard daily on WDVR FM 89.7, and wdvrfm.org.

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