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Lyr Req: God Specializes (Have you any rivers)

Azizi 22 Oct 08 - 09:48 PM
Azizi 22 Oct 08 - 09:53 PM
Azizi 22 Oct 08 - 10:04 PM
Azizi 22 Oct 08 - 11:10 PM
Azizi 23 Oct 08 - 07:46 AM
Azizi 23 Oct 08 - 08:00 AM
Azizi 23 Oct 08 - 08:15 AM
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Azizi 12 Jan 09 - 11:12 PM
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GUEST 08 Feb 09 - 10:32 AM
GUEST 24 Feb 10 - 03:55 PM
GUEST,Donaldw1 25 Mar 11 - 12:00 PM
Azizi 04 Feb 12 - 11:41 PM
GUEST,dorothy perkins, houston tx 21 Aug 12 - 11:48 PM
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Subject: Lyr Req: God Specializes (Have you any rivers}
From: Azizi
Date: 22 Oct 08 - 09:48 PM

Although my website Cocojams focuses on children's rhymes, it also has pages on other topics, including a page of YouTube links to {mostly} African American gospel & spiritual songs. That page may have been what promoted this information request this evening:

"Looking for the words to an old Negro gospel song. God Specializes- in the song I know that it says "and He will do what no-other power holy ghost power can do."
-Beverly C. Clark; 10/22/2008

-snip-

I remember the song "God Specializes" from my childhood or youth in New Jersey {1950s,1960s} . But because I wasn't sure about all of the words to that song, I decided to an online search. As a result of that search, I found an interesting discussion on namethathymn.com God Specializes.

Unlike most gospel songs that have a known composer, there are multiple & significantly different versions of "God Specializes" {also known as "Have You Any Rivers}. The words of the chorus appear to be more consistent than the words to the verses. But given that this song has a known composer-Oscar C. Eliason, why does it seem that the words of this gospel song been subjected to the folk process to the extent it has appeared to have been? It's also possible that the tune of this song might be different-though the tunes sung on three YouTube videos I watched were the same.

A post on that name that hymn discussion forum sheds some light on why the words to this song are much less fixed than most gospel songs. The poster indicates that he is the son of Oscar Eliason, and shared that his father wrote and publicly shared the chorus to the song long before he wrote the verses. Eliason speculates that this may be the reason why "God Specializes" has so many significanly different versions.

I'm starting this thread as a means of helping to preserve a link to & excepts of that name that hymn discussion of "God Specializes". I'm also starting this thread to provide an opportunity for Mudcat members/guests to also discuss this song. I've been working with Susan of DT to add some gospel songs to the Digitrad, and intend to include one or more versions of this song to that collection. And I have contacted Ms Clark and responded to her query on my website. In addition, I intend to let her know about this Mudcat thread.

Furthermore, I will add links on this thread to YouTube videos of "God Specializes" {Have You Any Rivers}.

I'm interested in knowing whether any Mudcat members/guests know the song "God Specializes", and if so, what version of the song you know.

Thanks, in advance, for your participation on this thread.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: God Specializes (Have you any rivers}
From: Azizi
Date: 22 Oct 08 - 09:53 PM

For the folkloric record, here is the complete post to namethathymn.com God Specializes that was written by Vic Eliason:

[Btw, the name of that discussion was "Got Any Rivers?]

20 Jul 2008 15:48   

"Guest

My father is Oscar C. Eliason. Dad wrote the chorus in 1929.
He was dying of TB in a Minneapolis hospital and an elderly
minister came by one evening and prayer was offered. The next
day be began to improve and he continued to improve to such an
extent that the Doctors admitted that something out of the ordinary
had happened. As he was getting better he saw an adv. in the
Minneapolis Star Tribune by a construction company that used the
slogan. He changed the words to:

Got any rivers you think are uncrossable
Got any mountains you can't tunnel through
God specializes in things thought impossible
He does the things others cannot do.

because it spread from mouth to mouth it became altered in
many interesting ways.

The story of how the verses were written in the later years
is a very interesting one and anyone interested may contact me
at [email address deleted]

What a joy to know that this little chorus has touched and encouraged
so many lives.

God Bless you.

Vic Eliason, Vice President
VCY America Radio Network
[phone number deleted]"


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: God Specializes (Have you any rivers}
From: Azizi
Date: 22 Oct 08 - 10:04 PM

Guest 19 Sep 2008 18:56 on that name that hymn forum provided this transcription of "God Specializes" as sung {on a YouTube video} by the very well respected gospel singer Dorinda Clark Cole:

{posted as found on that website, with some typographical or spelling errors}

"God Specializes"

verse 1
Have you any rivers
That you feel are uncrossable
And have you, have you any mountains
That you cannot tunnel through
But God, oh, He specializes
In things that are impossible
And he will do what no other power,
Holy Ghost power, power can do

verse 2
Have you any afflictions
That you feel are uncureable
And the doctors, those old doctors
Can't find a cure
My God, yes, He specialize
In things that are impossible
And he will do what no other power,
Wonder working power, power can do

chorus
Oh, God specializes
God specializes
Yes, God specializes
God specializes
And he will do what no other power
No other power can do.

-snip-

Here is the hyperlink to a YouTube video of Dorinda Clark Cole's rendition of this song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Xz_OPnuBYA


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: God Specializes (Have you any rivers}
From: Azizi
Date: 22 Oct 08 - 11:10 PM

Here is my transcription of this song as sung [on a YouTube video clip] by Pastor E. Dewey Smith Jr.

Note: I've put what I consider to be Pastor Smith's ad lib words in brackets

"God Specializes"

[Anybody know this one?}

[Soloist only with piano, organ, & drums

Have you any rivers
That you think are incrossable
Have you any mountains
That you can't tunnel through [Any old saints in the house?}
God specializes
In things that seem impossible
And He'll do
What no other power,
Holy Ghost power [I thought I had some old saints in here]
can do
{Heh Heh Heh, I remember my granny say...askin that question]

Have you any afflictions [mmmm]
That you think are incureable {anybody remember thate old folks singing that?]
And the doctors, those old doctors
Have done all they, they can do
[Come on Come on Church. Anybody remember sayin]
God, God specializes
in healing
in healing
in healing
in healing
All kind of diseases
And He'll do what no other power
Holy Ghost power
Holy Ghost power
can do.

[Now we done it contemporary. Can we do it old school? {Congregation-"Yes!"} I need somebody to help me say it.]

Soloist-You know God
Choir-God specializes
Soloist-Specialize [Come on!]
Choir-God specializes
Soloist-God
specialize
Choir-God specializes
Soloist-And He will do
Choir-He will do
Soloist-What no other power
Choir-No other power
Soloist-Holy Ghost power [Come On! I gotta get to this word. Come On!]
But One more time. Someone help me say]

Soloist-God
Choir-God specializes
Soloist-Specialize [Come on!]
Choir-God specializes
Soloist-[Somebody say] God
specialize
Choir-God specializes
Soloist-If your sick in your body
Choir-God Specializes
Solist-God specializes
Choir-God specializes
Soloist-Trouble in your home
Choir-God specializes
[Anyone ever try it?]
Soloist-God specialize
Choir-God specializes
Soloist-He'll make a way out of no way [Woo!]
Choir-God specializes
Soloist-He specializes [Ohh, God Specializes ]
Choir-God specializes
Soloist-And He'll do
Choir- He will do
Soloist-What no other power
Choir-No other power
Soloist & Choir-Holy Ghost Power
Can do

[My my my. Oh Yeah. God Bless You. God bless you]

-snip-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wK-mWlEFDuQ
"God Specializes" {also known as "Have You Any Rivers}

**

I may have missed some ad lib words, but after listening to this song a number of times, I think I've correctly transcribed the words.
I really love this version.

Btw: "old school" means the way that folks used to sing gospel "in the olden days".


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: God Specializes (Have you any rivers}
From: Azizi
Date: 23 Oct 08 - 07:46 AM

Here's another example of the song "God Specializes" from that same name that hymn forum whose link I posted earlier in this thread.

The lyrics in this examples, including the last line of the first verse {or is that the chorus?} are remarkably different from the lyrics of the previously posted examples.

God Specializes

Got any rivers you think are un-crossable
Got any mountains you can't tunnel through
God specializes in things thought impossible
If you'll let him have his way He'll make away for you

Let go and let God have His wonderful way
Let go and let God have His way
Your sorrow will vanish
You night turned to day
Let go and let God have His way

Let the Lord have His way
In your life everyday
There's no peace, there's no rest
Till the Lord has you best
Place your life in His hand
Rest secure in His plans
Let the Lord, let the Lord have His way

Let the Lord have His way
In your life everyday
There's no peace, there's no rest
Till the Lord has you best
Place your life in His hand
Rest secure in His plans
Let the Lord, let the Lord have His way

Place your life in His hand
Rest secure in His plans
Let the Lord, let the Lord have His way

[posted by savedbygrace; 13 Jun 2008 04:40]   

**

This version is somewhat like the version that was shared by another person writing on that forum:

Got any rivers you think are impossible?
Got any mountains you can not tunnel thorough?
God specialzes in things thought impossilbe
And he can do what no other God can do.

I learned this song about 50 years ago from my fourth grade school teacher. I believe it is just a chorus. We did put this with it

Let go and let God have his wonderful way
Let go and let God have his way.
Your burdens He'll carry
Your night, turn to day
Let go and let God have His way.

[Carolla; Posted: 01 Nov 2006 15:27]


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Subject: Lyr Add: GOT ANY RIVERS (Oscar C. Eliason)
From: Azizi
Date: 23 Oct 08 - 08:00 AM

For the record, here's another post from that name that hymn discussion that provides the words to what the poster alleges to be the verses that the song's composer wrote for "God Specializes". Note that this poster refers to this song as "Got Any River's [sic]"

"To anyone interested- I found the verses to Got Any River's? Written by Oscar C. Eliason Copyright 1945

1. Be of good courage God spake unto Joshua,
When o'er the river God pointed the way.
Jordan uncrossable! things seemed impossible,
Waters divide as they march and obey.

CHORUS: Got any rivers you think are uncrossable?
Got any mountains you can't tunnel through?
God specializes in things thought impossible:
He can do what no others can do

2. Battles to win! they would meet their obstacles,
Jericho's walls, too, must fall to the ground.
God never failed; He stood back of His promises,
Walls had to crumble as the marched around.

3. God is the same and His word is dependable;
He'll make a way through the waters for you.
Life's situations by Him are amendable,
Mountains and hills He will part for you too."

[posted by dreamklaiber; 01 Jan 2007 07:00]

-snip-

[I reformatted this post for easier reading]


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Subject: Lyr Add: GOT ANY RIVERS (Oscar C. Eliason)
From: Azizi
Date: 23 Oct 08 - 08:15 AM

Here's another online request for the song "God Specializes" {also known as "Got Any Rivers"; "Have You Any Rivers"}

"I need the lyrics and sheet music for a song from back in the 50s written by Oscar Eliason. The title is (or at least the first line of the chorus):Got any rivers you think are uncrossable? Got any mountains you cant tunnel through? God specializes in things thought impossible, and does the things others cannot do"...


http://electronichymnalmessageboard.yuku.com/topic/370
Song written by Oscar Eliason

(request posted by bingado; 01/21/08 09:00:56)

-snip-

Here is the only response that was posted to date:

Got Any Rivers

Be of good courage God spoke unto Joshua
When o'er the river God pointed the way
Jordan uncrossable, things seemed impossible
Waters divide as they march and obey

Chorus

D G D
Got any rivers you think are uncrossable?
D E A
Got any mountains you cant tunnel through?
D G D
God specialises in things thought impossible
D A D
And does the things that others cannot do.

Battles to win they would meet with their obstacles
Jericho's walls too must, fall to the ground
God never failed He stood back of his promises
Walls had to crumble as they marched around

Chorus

God is the same and His Word is dependable
He'll make a way through the water's for you
Life's situations by Him are amendable
Mountains and Hills He will part for you too

(posted by avilb; 01/28/08 21:29:47)

http://electronichymnalmessageboard.yuku.com/topic/370


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: God Specializes (Have you any rivers}
From: Azizi
Date: 23 Oct 08 - 09:03 AM

You may recall that my interest in this song was sparked by a query from a visitor to my website http://www.cocojams.com/ {this hyperlink goes to the gospel/spiritual video links page; note: I don't have any videos on that website}.

That visitor described "God Specializes" as an "old Negro gospel song".*

In the brief online search that I've done, I haven't found any information about Oscar C. Eliason's race. Therefore I can't confirm that "God Specializes" is "an old Negro gospel song" if that phrase means that the song was composed by a Black person.

Btw, there was a famous magician named Oscar Eliason who was White, But that is probably neither here nor there.

* Since the 1970s, the referent "Negro", has been replaced with the formal referent "African American" and the informal referent and "Black" {although "Black" refers to a more people of color than African American does}. Also note that "Black" is also written as "black".

Given the change in referents, for what it's worth, I refer to what were formerly known as "Negro spirituals" as "African American spirituals".


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: God Specializes (Have you any rivers}
From: Azizi
Date: 23 Oct 08 - 09:05 AM

There doesn't appear to be any doubt that Oscar C. Eliason is the composer of "Got Any Rivers" {"God Specializes"}.

See this index of religious songs & note that the only entry for that song is the "chorus":

Got Any Rivers ©1945 Oscar C. Eliason (Renewal 1973 Singspiration Music)

Got Any Rivers

Got any rivers you think are uncrossable?
Got any mountains you cannot tunnel through?
God specializes in things thought impossible
He does the things that others cannot do

http://www.christianeducational.org/pdf/Melodies_Of_The_Heart.pdf.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: God Specializes (Have you any rivers}
From: Azizi
Date: 23 Oct 08 - 10:25 AM

Let me correct a sentence from one of my previous post to this thread:

* Since the 1970s, the referent "Negro", has been replaced with the formal referent "African American" and the informal referent and "Black" {although "Black" refers to more people of color than African American does}. Also note that "Black" is often written as "black".


**

If this song was composed by an Anglo-American, as I think it may have been, it serves as an example of how African Americans can take a song and transform its words, its lyrical pattern, and its tune into a song that better embodies our aesthetic preferences. Adding the spoken word in the form of interjections or statements to the congregation {call & response or otherwise} often help make that song more aesthetically pleasing to many African Americans.

As a result, regardless of the race of its original composer, renditions of a song-either religous or secular-that has characteristics that meet African Ameican aesthetics could be said to be "African American gospel song".

However, that statement is only true as long as "African American song" is understood to not only mean a song whose composer is Black, but also means a version of a song that may have originally been composed by a non-African American, but has been changed through the folk process to include lyrical characteristics that are generally ascribed to African American musical compositions.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: God Specializes (Have you any rivers}
From: Azizi
Date: 12 Jan 09 - 11:12 PM

For the "record" and for what it's worth, I called the number listed on that forum mentioned above for Vic Eliason, the son of the composer of the song God Specializes/Have You Any Rivers.

The number was for a radio station. I was told that Mr. Eliason was on the air. I then left a telephone voice message identifying myself as a person who was interested in talking with him about his father's song "God Specializes"/"Have You Any Rivers". Unfortunately, I never received a return call from Mr. Eliason, and I never called him back.

As far as I know, his contact information is still be listed on that public forum whose link is found in one of the previous posts on this thread. If anyone else wants to attempt to contact him, you could do so.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: God Specializes (Have you any rivers}
From: Azizi
Date: 12 Jan 09 - 11:20 PM

Here are links to two YouTube videos of classic renditions of this song.

The first is listed under the name "God Specializes"

Roberta Martin Singers- "God Specializes"

The second is listed under the name "Have You Any Rivers"

Have You Any Rivers"- Mahalia Jackson

The Mahalia Jackson arrangement is much slower than the one by the Roberta Martin Singers. Thw Roberta Martin Singers arrangement is much closer to the arrangement sung by Dorinda Clark Cole and the arrangement sung by Pastor E. Dewey Smith Jr.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: God Specializes (Have you any rivers}
From: Azizi
Date: 12 Jan 09 - 11:57 PM

There actually are two videotapes of Pastor E. Dewey Smith Jr. and the choir & congregation singing "God Specializes". Here are the hyperlinks to that rendition of this song:

Pastor E.Dewey Smith Jr. Sings God Specializes-Classic Hymn

and

God Specializes (Ending)- Pastor E.Dewey Smith Jr.


**

In my opinion, Pastor Smith's rendition of this song could be one of many "textbook" examples of how an African American soloist can take a song and make it his or her own.

For instance, Pastor Smith

-combines talking with singing {including statements, questions to the congregation, exhorts the congregation to join in the singing, asks for testimonies from the congregations, and preaches while he sings}

-uses the call & response pattern {the soloist/choir/congregation as well as the segment at the end of the song when the pastor's preaching alternates with his singing as he engages in his own call & response pattern}

-adds lines from another gospel song to this song {Can't nobody do yah like Jesus/Can't nobody do yah like the Lord}

-repeats phrases of the song at will

-adds words to the song {for example, although African Americans usually add the phrase "Holy Ghost power" to the song [And He'll do what no other power-"Holy Ghost Power" will do"}, that phrase is not a part of the words that the song's composer wrote.

-appears to end the song, but then continues singing {the song is open-ended; the length of the song isn't fixed. If the singing pastor {and sometimes if the choir} wants to continue singing, then they will until such time as the pastor moves the church service on}

Also the congregation's/choir's "behaviour" should also be noted as a textbook example of African American gospel singing:

-the congregation is exhorted to join in the singing, and some members of the congregation do so

-some members of the congregation stand, others do not {those who stand do so because the song moves them so much [to use the words of an old African American spiritual "they can't sit down"}

-the choir does not stand still {the choir and some members of the congregation move to the song}

-some members of the congregation clap, some some people in the congregation/choir raise one or both hands above their head {to God}

-some people show their emotions while listening to or singing the song

**

It would be intersting to compare this rendition and the choir/congregation "behavior" with that of various non-Black churches, particularly White churches. However, so far I haven't been able to find any videos of White choirs/congregations singing this song.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: God Specializes (Have you any rivers}
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Feb 09 - 10:32 AM


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: God Specializes (Have you any rivers}
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 03:55 PM

my uncle use to sing this song he's a baptist / pentecostal holiness preacher Subject: RE: Lyr Req: God Specializes (Have you any rivers}
From: PROPHET


Here is my transcription of this song
Note: I've put what I consider to be Pastor Smith's ad lib words in brackets

"God Specializes"

[Anybody know this one?}

[Soloist only with piano, organ, & drums

Have you any rivers
That you think are incrossable
Have you any mountains
That you can't tunnel through [Any old saints in the house?}
God specializes
In things that seem impossible
And He'll do
What no other power,
Holy Ghost power [I thought I had some old saints in here]
can do
{Heh Heh Heh, I remember my granny say...askin that question]

Have you any afflictions [mmmm]
That you think are incureable {anybody remember thate old folks singing that?]
And the doctors, those old doctors
Have done all they can do

God - god specializes
in healing
in healing
in healing
in healing
All kind of diseases
And He'll do what no other power

Talking about a Holy Ghost power

can do.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: God Specializes (Have you any rivers)
From: GUEST,Donaldw1
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 12:00 PM

Please keep in mind Ms. Gloria Griffin who gospelized this song with the Roberta Martin Singers in the '50's.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: God Specializes (Have you any rivers)
From: Azizi
Date: 04 Feb 12 - 11:41 PM

I just added a post on "God Specializes" to my pancocojams cultural blog http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2012/02/vintage-gospel-god-specializes-have-you.html

That blog post includes 3 videos of "God Specializes" and 1 video of "Got Any Rivers". I presented those videos for their spiritual value, and also as a means of beginning an exploration of the differences between expected congregational "etiquette" in Black American churches and in White American churches. I also provided some history of how the chorus of those songs were composed.

I now write "those songs" because, as Donaldw1 indicated in his comment on 25 Mar 11 - 12:00 PM, the "Got Any Rivers" song was "gospelized" in 1958 by Gloria Griffin of the renown African American Gospel group the Roberta Martin Singers.

I think it's significant that African Americans sing "Have you any rivers" and not "Got any rivrs" which are the words that (White American) Oscar Eliason composed. And we usually use the title "God Specializes" for that song. That is the title that Gloria Griffin used for the song she copyrighted, and that is the chorus that gives so much spiritual power to that song.

Viewer comments are welcome on my pancocojams blog.

Best wishes,

Azizi Powell


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: God Specializes (Have you any rivers)
From: GUEST,dorothy perkins, houston tx
Date: 21 Aug 12 - 11:48 PM

Thanks for the additional verse. I only remembered the Roberta Martin Singers version.


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