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Oh Happy (HAPPY) Day:

Edwin Hawkins v. Club Nouveau

“Oh Happy Day” is that one gospel song that we all know. The one we’ve heard in church, in movies, and even in some concerts.

We’ll explore two different versions of the popular song: the most popular recorded version by The Edwin Hawkins Singers and the dancehall-influenced version by Club Nouveau.

About "Oh Happy Day"

“Oh Happy Day” is a gospel arrangement recorded in 1967 of an 18th century hymn written by Philip Doddridge. The 1967 version was arranged by Edwin Hawkins, a four-time Grammy award winning gospel musician, pianist, choir master, composer, and arranger.

The Edwin Hawkins Singers recorded the song in 1967 and in 1969 it became an international hit, reaching the top 5 on the U.S., Canadian, U.K., Irish, France, Germany,  and Netherlands Singles charts. The arrangement was the first gospel song to become a hit on the secular charts.

Hawkins’ arrangement of “Oh Happy Day” has become a gospel standard and has been covered by hundreds of artists.

Sample of Lyrics

Oh, happy day (Oh, happy day)
Oh, happy day (Oh, happy day)
When Jesus washed (When Jesus washed)
Oh, when He washed (When Jesus washed)
When Jesus washed (When Jesus washed)
He washed my sins away (Oh, happy day)
Oh, happy day (Oh, happy day)

He taught me how (He taught me how)
To watch and fight and pray
Watch and pray
And live rejoicing every day
Every day

Influence

“Oh Happy Day” appears in several movies:

Portions of “Oh Happy Day” are included on Nick Cave’s song “Deanna” and was the inspiration for George Harrison’s hit single “My Sweet Lord”.

Comparison

Released: 1968

Length: 5 minutes 7 seconds

Content Genre: Gospel/Urban contemporary gospel

Content: This version is made up of 

Singing Style: Urban Contemporary Gospel — This version is sung like gospel.

Released: 1992

Length: 4 minutes 25 seconds

Content Genre: Gospel

Content:

Singing Style: R&B/Soul/Dance Hall — This version is sung like R&B. The beginning vocals, as well as vocals towards the end of the song are sung in dance hall style.

Bibliography

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