The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #26108   Message #311586
Posted By: Joe Offer
03-Oct-00 - 10:42 PM
Thread Name: Origin: He's Got the Whole World in His Hands
Subject: RE: Info Request: Whole World In His Hands
OK, here are some quotes.
-Joe Offer-
The Book of World-Famous Music, by James J. Fuld, Crown Publishers, 1966.
The words of this spiritual were published in Arthur Huff Fauset, "Negro Folk Tales from the South," in the Journal of American Folklore, New York, NY, July-Sept 1927, p. 294, with a note that the spiritual was heard near Tuskegee, Alabama.
The music (and words) were included in Edward Boatner, Spirituals Triumphant - Old and New, Revised and Enlarged (Nashville, Tennessee, 1927, no. 68. It has not been possible to find a copy of the earlier edition of this collection.
Folk Song Abecedary, James F. Leisy, Hawthorn Books, 1966.
Sam Hinton told me this spiritual was introduced to folk-singing enthusiasts by Frank Warner, who had collected it from Sue Thomas at Nag's Head, North Carolina, in 1935. It became a favorite with concert audiences through the singing of Marian Anderson, and in the 1950's it became a hit with teenagers through a rock-and-roll record made in England. This universal success, along with a simple and repetitive structure, makes it particularly suitable for group singing.
Traditional American Folk Songs from the Anne & Frank Warner Collection, Anne Warner, Syracuse University Press, 1984.
Sue Thomas sang this song for Frank in the summer of 1933 - several years before we were married, before he had even thought of collecting songs. He learned it immediately and used it in every concert program for years. It was a favorite with anyone who heard it. We believe Frank was the first singer to introduce the song.
Some years later Marian Anderson - who learned it, she said, from a collector in Virginia - began using it in her programs of spirituals. Then Mahalia Jackson sang it, and Odetta. We delighted in hearing it from such fine singers. But then Lonny Donegan in London adopted it, and the skiffle boys, and they added a fast beat and hand-clapping at intervals, and interjected exclamations of "brother!"-
He's got you and me, brother,
Clap! Clap!!
In his hand...
Before one knew it, the lovely spiritual declaration of faith and trust that Sue sang so movingly had become a camp song, known throughout the land, When we began to sing it during a program the crowd would instantly join in, which would have been fine, but they would insist on the new fast beat and the clapping. We stopped singing, though we kept our appreciation of its message and its charm.
Here is is, then, as Sue sang it, with the verses she gave us. We have found a printed version of the song in the paperbound Spirituals Triumphant, Old and New (No. 68), edited and arranged by Edward Boatner, printed in both round and shaped notes. In the book, the verses are somewhat different:
1. He's got the whole world in His hand.
2. He's got my mother in His hand.
3. He's got my father in His hand.
4. He's got all power in His hand.
5. He's got the fishes of the sea in His hand.
6. He's got the whole church in His hand.
Improvisation adds joy and beauty to a song of this kind.
(as sung by Sue Thomas to Frank Warner, 1933)

He's got the whole world right in his hand.
He's got the whole world right in his hand.
He's got the whole world right in his hand.
He's got the whole world in his hand.

He's got the trees and the flowers right in his hand.

He's got the crap-shootin' man right in his hand.

He's got the back-slidin' sister right in his hand.

He's got the little bitty baby right in his hand.

He's got you and me in his hand.

(the line for each verse is repeated three times, ending with "He's got the whole world in his hand."
-Joe Offer-