Peace In The Valley


“It was just before Hitler sent his war chariots into Western Europe in the late thirties. I was on a train going through Southern Indiana on the way to Cincinnati, and the country seemed to be upset about this coming war that he was about to bring on. I passed through a valley on the train. Horses, cows, sheep, they were all grazing and together in this little valley. Kind of a little brook was running through the valley, and up the hill there I could see where the water was falling from. Everything seemed so peaceful with all the animals down there grazing together. It made me wonder what’s the matter with humanity? What’s the matter with mankind? Why couldn’t man live in peace, like the animals down there? So out came ‘Peace In The Valley —Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey


By  Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey

Oh well, I’m tired and so weary
But I must go alone
Till the lord comes and calls, calls me away, oh yes
Well the morning’s so bright
And the lamp is alight
And the night, night is as black as the sea, oh yes

There will be peace in the valley for me, some day
There will be peace in the valley for me, oh Lord I pray
There’ll be no sadness, no sorrow
No trouble, trouble I see
There will be peace in the valley for me, for me

Well the bear will be gentle
And the wolves will be tame
And the lion shall lay down by the lamb, oh yes
And the beasts from the wild
Shall be lit by a child
And I’ll be changed, changed from this creature that I am, oh yes

There will be peace in the valley for me, some day
There will be peace in the valley for me, oh Lord I pray
There’ll be no sadness, no sorrow
No trouble, trouble I see
There will be peace in the valley for me, for me

This particular song was written specifically for  Mahalia Jackson in 1937 by Thomas Andrew Dorsey. Rev. Thomas Andrew Dorsey (July 1, 1899 – January 23, 1993) was known as “the father of black gospel music” and was at one time so closely associated with the field that songs written in the new style were sometimes known as “dorseys.” Earlier in his life he was a leading blues pianist known as Georgia Tom.

As formulated by Dorsey, gospel music combines Christian praise with the rhythms of jazz and the blues. His conception also deviates from what had been, to that time, standard hymnal practice by referring explicitly to the self, and the self’s relation to faith and God, rather than the individual subsumed into the group via belief.

Thomas Dorsey was born in Villa Rica, Georgia, a small town about forty miles from Atlanta. While still in his early teens, his attention was drawn to show business by the music of the black performers in Atlanta. He soon began playing piano in the jazz clubs, under the name of Georgia Tom. At age seventeen, he moved to Gary, Indiana, to pursue his music career. Two years later, he moved on to Chicago, where he enrolled in the Chicago College of Composition and Arranging and began playing with local jazz groups. He soon formed his own band, which became the backup group for Ma Rainey, a well-known blues singer.

In 1928, in partnership with slide guitarist Hudson “Tampa Red” Whitaker, he wrote and recorded a song that hit the top of the blues charts and sold more than seven million copies, according to one report. Dorsey is credited with writing more than 450 rhythm and blues and jazz songs, and with establishing the Dorsey House of Music in 1932, the first independent company to publish black gospel music.

Nevertheless, his life was proof that the world does not satisfy a Christian. After he suffered a nervous breakdown, it took two years for him to recuperate. During that time, the Lord was speaking to him. In 1930, he lost his wife and newborn son. He later said, “I was doing all right by myself, but the voice of God whispered, ‘You need to change a little.’” He eventually found that he could not be a part of the R&B and jazz world and do his work for the Lord properly.

He put together a choir at his church, Pilgrim Baptist Church, with Roberta Martin playing the piano. In 1933, he organized the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses, along with Sallie Martin, his good friend Theodore Frye, and several others. By 1977,  he was still actively leading one of the choirs at the church. He was seventy-eight years old at the time.

His songs have been recorded by such diverse artists as Mahalia Jackson, Tennessee Ernie Ford, and Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. President Lyndon B. Johnson requested that “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” be sung at his funeral. It was also used at a rally led by Martin Luther King Jr. the night before his assassination.

In September 1981, Dorsey’s native state honored him with election to the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. In 1982, he was the first African-American elected to the Gospel Music Association’s Living Hall of Fame. In that same year, the Thomas A. Dorsey Archives were opened at Fisk University, where his collection joined those of W. C. Handy, George Gershwin, and the famed Jubilee Singers. In summing up his life as a Christian, Dorsey said that all of his work has been “from God, for God, and for His people.” In 1983, George T. Nierenberg produced a documentary of the history of gospel music, Say Amen, Somebody, in which Thomas Dorsey made a personal appearance. Dorsey was also elected to the Nashville Songwriters International Hall of Fame.

In 1937, he wrote a song for Mahalia Jackson, “Peace in the Valley,” which has become extremely popular. In the song, Dorsey speaks of being “tired and so weary,” a plight of many of God’s people who “must go along.” But there is coming a time when the “morning is bright and the Lamb is the Light.” In that time and place, the “night is as fair as the day” and there is no more sadness, sorrow, or trouble—only peace.

After the passing of Dorsey’s wife, Nettie,  Dorsey later married again to Kathryn Dorsey. Thomas Dorsey wrote nearly one thousand gospel songs in his lifetime.


There is no word more precious than peace, nor a more joyous state of being for a Christian, than to know God’s peace. We long for it, and when it comes to us it is directly from our heavenly Father.


Taken from Stories Behind 50 Southern Gospel Favorites © 2005 by Lindsay Terry. Published by Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI.

I was lost for which version of this song to share and so I have shared two versions that i have loved for years. One by B J Thomas and another by Roretta Lynn.

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