The road ends, but the journey continues...

Oh Happy Day – It's a Done Deal!

On Monday, September 17th, my bro and I signed over our folks’ house to a buyer who said, “I fell in love with this house the minute I set foot into it.”
In celebration of this event, I bring you a jam session of a favorite gospel tune, Oh Happy Day, in the spirit of my JazzMan Dad
(jump to 3:05 if you’re not a musician interested in the creative process)

Context of this piece is as follows:

Original youth group recording

This is track 5 from the 1968 album “Let Us Go Into The House Of The Lord”. Lead by Dorothy Morrison-Combs Written by Philip Doddridge Arranged by Edwin Hawkins. Edwin Hawkins was a pianist at Ephesian Church of God in Christ in Berkeley, California when he came up with the popular Latin/Soul version of the song “Oh Happy Day” in 1968. In an October 23, 2009 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, he explained that “Oh Happy Day” was one of eight arrangements he put together for the Northern California State Youth Choir, which was made up of 46 singers ages 17 to 25, and the plan was to sell an album of the songs to finance a trip to a church youth conference in Washington, D.C. The tracks were quickly recorded live in church on a two-track tape machine (industry standard at the time was eight-track), but the records weren’t pressed in time for the trip. They did attend the conference, and the choir placed second in a singing competition, where they performed 2 of Hawkins’ arrangements, but not “Oh Happy Day,” which Hawkins said was “Not our favorite song.”

Me: the bassline beginning at 2:40 through to the end is fantastic! – this is a stellar example of the vibrancy of live performances regardless of the limitations of available recording equipment…wow!

And the performance you might be more familiar with:

Me: this one is a vocal improv that is relatable to the Jam.

Oh happy day (oh happy day)
Oh happy day (oh happy day)
When Jesus washed (when Jesus washed)
When Jesus washed (when Jesus washed)
When Jesus washed (when Jesus washed)
He washed my sins away (oh happy day)
Oh happy day (oh happy day)

He taught me how to watch, fight and pray, fight and pray
And live rejoicing every, everyday

Oh happy day…

Two years ago on the 17th, I was scheduled to fly back to SC after a Summer of Dad visit. He, instead, changed my plans the day before by having a mini stroke. Hubby quickly cancelled that flight and rescheduled for another flight for the following week.

Dad passed away Sept 22…

September 17th, 2018 we closed on Ma & Dad’s house. Two nights before that, hubby and I slept in Ma & Dad’s empty house for the last time on our faithful air mattress.

A different sort of closing…


  1. Andy

    Closing and closure. Both necessary parts of this chapter.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Amen and Amen.

  2. Anna Scott Graham

    Congrats are in order, as well as virtual hugs for that different sort of closing; while there is so much out of our control, how lovely to read the new owners are the right fit. Love those clips, and might I say the end of the first is absolutely fantastic; that last minute perfectly wraps up the jam. Ta love for making my feet boogie. 😉

    • laura bruno lilly

      You’re a true aficionado of the art of jam…the best parts are often little end-surprises!
      Taking that virtual hug and then morphing it into a ‘dance of joy’ with you as a gentle hint of hope while navigating your current journey.

  3. Janis

    I remember how hard it was to sell my childhood home (the home I had known since being a newborn) after my father passed away. The fact that is was purchased by a young family with two delightful little girls made the transaction so much easier. Congrats on your happy day!

    • laura bruno lilly

      I cannot imagine having to sell one’s lifetime home, Janis. I would think the sorting, clearing and ‘touching’ of the stuff of their lives helped in the process of getting it ready for the transition?
      While we cannot control who buys the property, it certainly is a bonus-blessing when they seem to be a perfect ‘fit’. A new family in an already established childhood home – perfect for sure.

  4. Susan Ranscht

    And now a Dance of Joy for you!

    • laura bruno lilly

      HA! Yes, of course!

  5. Jill Weatherholt

    I’m so happy for you, Laura. Isn’t it amazing when the exact words you need to hear are spoken? This is such a lovely tribute to your father.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Hugs to you, Jill.

  6. Andrea Stephenson

    I’m glad that the house has gone to someone who will obviously care about it and that you can feel that sense of completion.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Thank you Andrea. Enjoy your part of the world’s changing seasons…beauty in its unfolding…


    I wondered if you were impacted by the Flo Flood, glad you found passage with Noah, and arrived safely at MUSICLAND. Always enjoy reading your blogs. The Broadway Babies are rehearsing, about to open our 14th season. The tap dance ladies now require us to sing at a sloooow tempo, Maestro. At 91, my bass voice remains LOUD, on key, a bit more raspy. Loved seeing and hearing the recording session. My folks never owned a home, but I cried when my dad moved in with my sister, leaving our Hobart upright in the tenement flat to its unknown fate.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Always a treat to hear from you, Joe!
      That is too funny about the tap dance ladies – I can just hear their protests when your group belts out a tune at the proper tempo to slow it down! Gotta keep them happy or they won’t dance.
      Please send on some links of any performances you may have up on youtube…always a delight to hear your solos – whether sung or spoken.
      And, I’m thinking your Hobart upright found its way into the (he)art of another tenant…

  8. Jennie Fitzkee

    Oh, I love this!! Great news on the house, and a perfect song to celebrate. I always loved the movie “Sister Act II” because the song was central to the story and sung over and over again. Watch it this weekend to further celebrate. Oh happy day, Laura.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Great suggestion, Jennie – anything to further celebrate!

  9. Jane Chesebrough

    I think it would do my heart good to hear the buyer say they fell in love with the house the moment they set foot into it. They will take care of it. Very touching image in my mind of you and hubby spending the last night on an air mattress. Hope you can take time to “be still” tomorrow, the 22nd. And the songs…well! they were great, remember the last one but sure liked the sax !

    • laura bruno lilly

      Yes, that unexpected statement by the buyer was just what I needed to hear.
      Thanks for the reminder to “be still” this day…I will take that advise to (he)art, Jane.

  10. Deborah Brasket

    I’m so happy for you Laura! And thank you for happy day vibes. Brings back sunny memories.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Happy Day vibes indeed.

  11. Heather

    I’m so glad Laura, and what a lovely and beautiful post. It must still be hard, but lovely to know that someones bought the house who has fallen in love with it. Sending hugs. xxx

    • laura bruno lilly

      Sweet of you to say, Heather…hugs back!

  12. Roseanne

    Hi Laura! This post just brings me to tears. All of it – the music and the wonderful lyrics, selling your parents house, missing out on a nice visit with dad, and most of all that you got to sleep for the last time in your parents’ house. I know how hard it is to go back, clean out all the loved, cherished and forgotten items that are the sum of a family’s life. It is just fabulous that the home will have a new family that will love it and create their own memories there. September 17th must be an important day for you. ~smile~ Roseanne

    • laura bruno lilly

      Dry those tears and dance with me!
      I never expected the newer owner to express such a declaration! Certainly helped in closing this chapter of my life.
      ~smiles back atch-ya~

  13. L. Marie

    Congratulations, Laura! Yay!! Though I’m sure selling your parents’ house was bittersweet. How interesting that the house sold in the same month of your dad’s passing. What a lovely tribute to your dad. Though I’m not a musician, I could appreciate the creative process of the first video. And I’ve heard the second and third versions of “Oh Happy Day.” Beautiful!!!

    • laura bruno lilly

      Thanks, L. Marie. Yeah, didn’t make the connection to the timing of the sale as you noted – just plugged along until it was done. Whew!
      And: Oh Happy Day is just one of those tunes (and messages) that sticks with ya!
      Have a great weekend, friend.

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