The Originals: What A Day That Will Be

The Originals: What A Day That Will Be

Sometimes it’s difficult to find which recording of a song was the very first one. It’s easier, though, when a songwriter was in a group and that group got first dibs on everything he wrote.

Nearly 20 years before he joined the Stamps Quartet and became a household name in Gospel music, Jim Hill formed a trio with Harold Patrick and John Conley in Portsmouth, Ohio. Conley was soon replaced by Pat Duncan, and they ultimately added a bass singer named Clarence Claxton. From that point on, they were known as the Golden Keys Quartet. They were a popular part-time/regional group in the state of Ohio. Jim Hill was the group’s manager and an often featured vocalist. He also wrote much of their material.

Image1In 1955, Hill’s “What A Day That Will Be” was published in sheet music form and registered for a copyright by publisher Ben Speer. The song went on to become an all-time classic.

Hill’s own Golden Keys Quartet was the first group to release a recording of “What A Day That Will Be,” a song that is now found in many hymnals including several published in recent years.

Have a listen.

As you can see from the partial list below, “What A Day That Will Be” has been recorded by many of Southern Gospel’s top artists in every decade since the song was written.

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Category Audio, History

David Bruce Murray

David Bruce Murray is a church music director in Ellenboro, NC. He is the author of Murray's Encyclopedia Of Southern Gospel Music and the owner of both and David plays piano for Southern Sounds Quartet and the Foothills Community Choir.

MusicScribe Comments

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  1. Reply June 23, 09:05 #1 Joe Mannon

    Great song! It was also on the REBELS “How Great Thou Art” Sing album, L.P. 8003

  2. Reply June 23, 09:12 #2 Kyle Boreing

    It was also reported that Glen Payne was singing “What A Day That Will Be” as he took his final breath….

  3. Reply June 24, 01:55 #3 Joe Mannon

    Kyle, I think the song Glen was singing was “I Won’t Have To Cross Jordan Alone”, but I could be wrong.

  4. Reply June 25, 09:48 #4 Kyle Boreing

    That was the song Glen sang over the phone from the hospital at NQC.

  5. Reply June 25, 13:40 #5 Joe Mannon

    That’s right. I was thinking about the NQC song. Thanks for clearing that up, Kyle.

  6. Reply April 29, 10:40 #6 Pauline Thompson

    David, thanks so much for posting the information on several “originals.” As a lover of all things southern gospel music history, this info is just great.

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