The Great Judgement Morning

Today’s post was written by Paul.

The old Roy Acuff song “The Great Judgement Morning” crossed my mind the other day.

I dug around and found a cassette tape of Pap and his brother Ray singing it. The recording captures their primary sound as the Wilson Brothers, two voices and two flattop guitars.

I think their version of the song is a strong example of the “blood harmony” that’s talked about so much in documentaries and books about country/Appalachian music.

Pap’s tenor on the middle part of the chorus, as the song falls into the low chord and the harmony soars high, makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck. It’s the combination of the extreme high pitch and the lyrics describing THE moment of terror and anguish…

Hard to explain, but maybe you sense it too as you listen.

Ray had a simple recording set-up that he used in his basement around that time. Simple in the sense that only two mics were used. They each had a mic, and that one mic captured both their guitars and vocals. The recorder was a 2-track cassette with no mixing or EQ capabilities, only volume control.

Pap’s vocal and guitar were sent to the left track or speaker, and Ray’s were sent to the right.

When I copied this recording from cassette for upload, I mixed the two tracks a little more to the center (about 10 and 2), and I added a slight bit of reverb. Recording quality notwithstanding, I think they both did an excellent job on this classic gospel number. I hope you enjoy it.


I hope you enjoyed Paul’s post. We still have a couple of Wilson Brother cds available—you can see them below (Today if You Will Hear His Voice and Live at John C. Campbell Folk School and on Radio).


Subscribe for FREE and get a daily dose of Appalachia in your inbox

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    Larry E. La Flair
    July 12, 2020 at 2:13 pm

    Not an Appalachian (born and raised at Canadian Border of New York State), but always liked this song as sung by Hank Williams, Sr–Never heard it sung by anyone else until today, and THANKS–Most appreciated.

  • Reply
    Gina Smith
    July 9, 2020 at 4:37 pm

    So very beautiful

  • Reply
    July 6, 2020 at 4:44 pm

    I’ve never heard this one before, but I really liked it. It’s the harmony.

  • Reply
    SusieQ and Donnie Ray
    July 6, 2020 at 3:29 pm

    What a great song and so well done, a song truly poignant for today….. I truly do believe in that blood harmony. Years of knowing one another. A wonderful thing. Our Sunday teaching was … Do you know Him not just about Him ,do you know Him ,and He you.

  • Reply
    July 6, 2020 at 9:09 am

    I am sitting here in tears. The combination of the gravity of the words of this song and the outstanding, anointed harmony of their voices just literally shakes my core. I totally get what you mean, Paul, about the hairs on your neck standing up. If anyone can listen to this combination and not feel the fear of God, they must have a heart of adamant stone. I dearly love the Louvins, but I tell you the truth, as much as I love them, your Dad and uncle are right there equal with them. I wish they could have had more worldwide fame, so a wider audience could have heard them sing. So thankful you and your family are keeping their music alive and also continuing on using your own amazing talents for all of us to enjoy. May God bless all of you in a special way!

  • Reply
    July 5, 2020 at 4:51 pm

    As lovely as the song and recording are, it’s Paul and Tipper’s knowledge about how music was passed down through the generations, how recordings were captured through the ages, and how the changes in technology have both preserved and altered the music of the mountains that so impresses me. I hope you two will write a book with accompanying/illustrative recordings (and pictures) to tell this story. I’ve read and listened to some attempts including an effort by Smithsonian historians; somehow, I feel you two would put together a more complete and more accurate story of mountain music.

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    July 5, 2020 at 2:45 pm

    Very nice…..

  • Reply
    betty stephenson
    July 5, 2020 at 2:36 pm

    beautiful post thanks paul love it

  • Reply
    Kenneth Ryan
    July 5, 2020 at 11:31 am

    Wonderful way to start a Sunday morning!

  • Reply
    Brenda Moore
    July 5, 2020 at 11:21 am

    Good job. Loved it. Hadn’t heard that song in years – least 50 years.

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    July 5, 2020 at 10:58 am

    Sublime harmony! Thank you!

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    July 5, 2020 at 9:23 am

    And Paul,
    I love to hear Ray and Pap sing, they’re my Favorites because you can tell they’re blood Kin. Me and Harold use to sing in Chruches all around, ” I have But One Goal”. If you all could do that, especially to Music, with Paul talking the song and Chitter and Chatter putting the Flavor to it, it would bring back so many memories. I was telling Donna Lynn about it, and she played it by ” The Chuck Wagon Gang” a while back. We also sung, “For the Sign by the Side of the Road’ and many more. It has been more than 67 years since I heard these songs sung and your viewers might enjoy them also. …Ken

  • Reply
    July 5, 2020 at 8:50 am

    The simple recording set-up lets Pap’s tenor come through loud and clear. Paul, I can see why it makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck. Thank you for sharing.

  • Reply
    July 5, 2020 at 8:23 am

    That song brings my childhood closer than about anything. We had an old combination record player radio where many of the old artists could be heard. I always preferred the Bluegrass harmony, and would like to read more about “blood harmony.” That was a beautiful rendition by the Wilsons, and it truly did almost make the hair stand up. I am surprised the Wilsons did not make it right to the top.

    In those days it was not uncommon to go to an old church in some remote area, and there was some beautiful harmony in those hills. I had an Uncle, Aunt, and their 2 sons that always sung Acapella because of that old timey Baptist belief once referred to as “hardshell.” Now, they could harmonize, and only sang what they called “Christian.” Oddly enough, I did not like to hear them because their singing always made me tear up. I don’t think there was a sadder sound on earth than those voices ringing out the church windows at a funeral. It seems there were a lot of funerals back then because families were so large. Later they added instruments, and the one cousin left can still pick up any instrument and learn it. Thank you Paul, as I thoroughly enjoy your posts that feature an Appalachian favorite which is music.

  • Reply
    gayle larson
    July 5, 2020 at 8:05 am

    Another great Sunday treat.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 5, 2020 at 8:04 am

    Thank you, Paul, that’s beautiful and I can certainly hear the blood harmony, though that’s a new expression for me. Pap had the sweetest voice and he was certainly the sweetest man I ever met. It’s amazing to me that that sweetness of heart comes through so clearly in his music.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    July 5, 2020 at 8:04 am

    What a high tenor voice your Dad had! Ray’s voice works to really showcase it. How blessed you all are to have these recordings.

    I confess that when it comes to music I am about as dumb as the proverbial bucket. Most of what you say about instruments, recording and things like ‘dropped notes’ go right over my head. I can fetch and carry equipment but I have learned not ro help pack it.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    July 5, 2020 at 7:18 am

    My Wife and I enjoyed this very much and I added it to my favorites.
    Tipper, you did a good job.

    • Reply
      Margie Goldstein
      July 5, 2020 at 8:49 am

      This song was beautiful and very uplifting for this Sunday morning! Yesterday I rode the STRUGGLE bus all day! Then came this Blessed New Morning!!!! Thanks for the family harmonizing! It’s perfectly lovely!!!!

    • Reply
      aw griff
      July 5, 2020 at 10:19 am

      Sorry. Good job Paul.

    Leave a Reply