How Can I Keep From Singing: I’ll Fly Away

Albert E. Brumley wrote “I’ll Fly Away” in 1932. For eighty years, this song has been covered by many noted musicians.  The fact that this song still elicits emotion and memories for so many people speaks to its undeniable place in Southern Gospel music history.

When I was doing research for this post, I ran across a great website,  The “I’ll Fly Away” Foundation (IFAF) was established by Betsy Brumley and others to honor her grandfather and raise funds for preserving our American musical heritage.  It provides scholarships for those who want to be professional musicians.  IFAF visits classrooms and gives demonstrations tours to help educate future generations about preserving the roots and traditions of American music.  If you visit the site, you can learn about the programs and people involved in IFAF.

My Granddaddy Raeford had the most beautiful bass voice.  One of the earliest memories I have is him singing and playing the guitar.  He sang in the church choir.  He sang in quartets that delivered four-part Southern Gospel music at its finest.  He loved “I’ll Fly Away,” among so many other hymns and songs.

I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow.  It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.  The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building.  Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. 1 Corinthians 3:6-10 (NLT)

If you read the lyrics of “I’ll Fly Away,” it’s evident that Albert Brumley was a part of laying God’s foundation.  He wrote of going to heaven as only a man who loved God and knew Jesus could.  Every time we sing his song, we become part of the “Builders Association,” laying the foundations for future believers.  I’m so glad that the Brumley family started the IFAF.  I dearly love Contemporary Christian music, but I will always remember the songs that I first learned in church — the hymns of Southern Gospel music.

There were so many videos to choose from when I looked for “I’ll Fly Away.”  I chose this version because Johnny Cash sounds an awful lot like my granddaddy.  After you enjoy Johnny’s version of “I’ll Fly Away,”  please visit the IFAF site.  If you love Southern Gospel music, you will want these folks to reach their goals.  And if Southern Gospel music helped lead you to the cross, then you just might want to make a donation to say “Thank you.”

I’ll Fly Away (Johnny Cash) “


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