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The Good Old Way / Sweet Hope of Glory

[ Roud 23864 ; DT GOODOLD ; trad.]

The Watersons sang the Manx Primitive Methodist hymn The Good Old Way in 1975 on their Topic album For Pence and Spicy Ale. This track was also included in 1980 as title track of the Topic sampler The Good Old Way, in 1993 on the Topic anthology The Folk Collection, in 2000 on the English folk anthology And We’ll All Have Tea, and in 2004 on the Watersons’ 4CD anthology Mighty River of Song. They also sang it at a oncert at Hull Truck Theatre on 15 August 2010 to celebrate Norma’s 71st birthday. It was published in 2011 on the DVD Live at Hull Truck. A.L. Lloyd noted on the original album:

The 18th century saw the Great Awakening of religious dissenter groups with such slogans as “We’ll take the Kingdom of Heaven by storm.” Under the banner of the Awakening were many ecstatic groups—Shakers, New Lighters, Free Baptists, ultimately Ranters (Primitive Methodists), and others lumped together as Holy Rollers. Unlike John Wesley, who preferred the tunes of imported elite composers such as Handel, Giordani and their lesser fellows, the “gospel trumpeters” went in for folky tunes like Amazing Grace and The Good Old Way. John Cennick (1718-55), who broke away from the Wesleys, was the founder of folky hymnody with his Sacred Hymns (Bristol 1743), which had an enormous effect on the wildfire revivals in Britain and America. The Good Old Way is said to have been a favourite hymn of the wild evangelist John Adam Grenade (1775-1806). In America it acquired a “Hallelujah” chorus and in that form came back to England and was printed in the Ranters’ Hymns and Spiritual Songs (c. 1820). Our version was collected by John Clague from a marble-mason on the [Isle of Man], John Cubbon. It appears in the Folk Song Journal (No. 30), and serves to remind us what grand tunes have been lost to our hymnbooks through the tyranny of [Hymns] Ancient & Modern.

Note: In the above comment, Lloyd’s erroneously placed John Cubbon on the Isle of Wight. But the song is from JFSS No. 30 pp. 296-7 which in volumes 28-30 covers traditional music collected on the Isle of Man. Thank you very much to John Kaneen for this correction.

Jon Boden sang The Good Old Way as the 25 October 2010 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day.

There is a YouTube video of Eliza Carthy & The Ratcatchers (Jon Boden, Ben Ivitsky and John Spiers) singing The Good Old Way at Buxton Opera House in 2007:

Leveret played The Good Old Way in 2016 on their CD In the Round. They noted:

John Offord’s collection John of the Green, The Cheshire Way has provided us with a huge amount of repertoire and inspiration. The Good Old Way is John Offord’s adaption of the Manx Primitive Methodist Hymn, which listeners may be familiar with from The Watersons’ album For Pence and Spicy Ale.

Andy Turner sang The Good Old Way as the 16 November 2020 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week.

Nat Brookes played the tune of The Good Old Way in 2023 on their album Cormorant.

Note that there are two other hymns with the same title The Good Old Way, [ Roud 12041 ; Ballad Index AWG084A ] and [ Roud 16937 ; Ballad Index ChFRA093 ].


The Watersons sing The Good Old Way

Lift up your hearts, Emmanuel’s friends
And taste the pleasure Jesus sends
Let nothing cause you to delay
But hasten in the good old way

Chorus (after each verse):
For I have a sweet hope of glory in my soul
(For I have a sweet hope of glory)
I have a sweet hope of glory in my soul
(I have a sweet hope of glory)
For I know I have, and I feel I have
A sweet hope of glory in my soul

Our conflicts here, though great they be
Shall not prevent our victory
If we but strive and watch and pray
Like soldiers in the good old way

Though Satan may his powers employ
Our happiness for to destroy
Yet never fear, we’ll gain the day
By marching in the good old way

Ye valiant souls, for heaven contend
Remember glory is at the end
Our God will wipe our tears away
When we have run the good old way

And far beyond this mortal shore
We’ll meet with those who have gone before
And shout to think we have gained the day
By marching in the good old way


Copied from the Digital Tradition by Garry Gillard.