PEACE IN THE VALLEY written in 1937
Thomas Dorsey (1899-1993) was born the son of a black minister in Georgia, in a small town outside Atlanta. His mother, a music teacher, taught him to play the piano as a child. As he grew into his teens, he was drawn into the world of jazz music. At age 17, he moved to Gary, IN, pursuing a nightclub career. Two years later, “Georgia Tom”, as he was known in his music world, could be found performing in the establishments on the southside of neighboring Chicago.
Thomas was torn between blues music and his Christian training. The stress was so intense he suffered a nervous breakdown and was recuperating for two years. During that time, he had become a member of the Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago, and began to play a major role in directing the music of the church. He would write hundreds of songs, including this one.
Thomas would become the best known African-American composer of gospel music in America. His hymns became often-sung in churches in both the North and the South.
Thomas wrote this hymn in 1937. It was shortly before Hitler sent his war chariots into western Europe. Thomas was on a train going through southern Indiana on the way to Cincinnati… when he passed through a valley on that train. Horses, cows, and sheep were all grazing together in that little valley. A little brook was running through it… everything seemed so peaceful. It caused him to wonder what was wrong with mankind.
As he traveled, he wrote down the words to this hymn. The tune he would set it to seems to be a mix of gospel, blues, and country. Country singers picked it up and – by the 1960s – it would become one of 10 best-known country gospel songs of all time!
President Lyndon B. Johnson, before his death, requested that this hymn be sung at his funeral; Anita Bryant was chosen to fulfill that request.
Read this hymn, and – today – pray for peace in our world, our nation, our communities, and our homes.
I am tired and I’m weary, but I must toil on
till the Lord come to call me away;
where the morning is bright and the Lamb is the light
and the night is fair as the day.
There will be peace in the valley for me some day.
There will be peace in the valley for me.
I pray no more sorrow and sadness or trouble will be;
there will be peace in the valley for me.
There the flow’rs will be blooming, the grass will be green,
and the skies will be clear and serene;
the sun ever shines, giving one endless beam
and the clouds there will ever be seen. (Chorus)
There the bear will be gentle, the wolf will be tame,
and the lion will lay down by the lamb.
The host from the wild will be led by a Child;
I’ll be changed from the creature I am. (Chorus)
No headaches or heartaches or misunderstands;
no confusion or trouble won’t be;
no frowns to defile, just a big endless smile;
there’ll be peace and contentment for me. (Chorus)