Gospel Song – Come, Let Us Go Back To God

Gospel Song – Come, Let Us Go Back To God

Gospel Song – Come, Let Us Go Back To God.

The legendary writer of this song, Thomas Dorsey (1899-1993), is called the “Father of Gospel Music.” He coined the term Gospel in the early 1930’s, and is said to have written over 1,000 gospel songs. He was the first musician to popularize the fusion of sacred text with secular blues. One historian wrote that he invented the gospel genre, that “he combined the good news of the gospel with the bad news of the blues.” Thomas was a natural evangelist for the Christian faith, and his second wife once said, “the only thing he cared about was saving souls through his music.”

Thomas Dorsey was born into a minister’s family in rural Georgia, and soon the family moved to Atlanta. While there, Thomas was behind in school, was made fun of, and he dropped out of school after the 4th grade. Thomas grew into a brilliant songwriter, and it was said that over his lifetime he wrote over 3,000 songs, most of which were blues numbers. He settled in Chicago, keeping his roots in the blues and his desires in the gospel, and he was the music director at Pilgrim Baptist Church for 50 years. While there, he encouraged the congregants to clap, stomp and shout in church. At that time, that sort of behavior in church was rejected for being undignified. Dorsey also introduced music that could be improvised and spontaneous. Because of the style of singing he developed in his church, Dorsey was often rejected when he visited other churches. But his boisterous, spontaneous style of participation in worship in the black church soon took hold. He became famous for what has turned into the wonderfully expressive, predominant style of worship in the black churches to this day. Dorsey was an expert pianist, and there were times during the church service that he would stand up to play in the Spirit as he led the coir and congregation in singing. Perhaps his most famous gospel song is “Take My Hand, Precious Lord.” He wrote that song immediately after the death of both his wife and his son during childbirth. He said towards the end of his life that he never recovered from that tragedy in his life.

Finding the date of this song’s composition and recording has proven to be a difficult task. Mr. Dorsey probably wrote this song during the 1940’s, since the lyrics imply a world war “across the sea.” This song is eerily relevant to 2020, when there is much “trouble in the air.” And this urgent appeal to return to God, to have a national revival, couldn’t be more appropriate. So let us sing this song as if it were written yesterday. Thomas Dorsey composed this song for his early listeners, and we can lean into the lyrics ourselves.

LYRICS –  Come, Let Us Go Back To God

  1. The earth is in a blaze, the world is in a maze, the way of life today is strange and odd.

          What happened across the sea, may come to you and me. O come, let us go back to God. 

Refrain: O come on, let us go back. Come on, let us go back. I know the way without the Lord is mighty hard.

                 I know death has marked a path. Death has marked a path we trod.

                  Come, let us go back to God.

2. There is trouble in the air,  destruction is everywhere, Then men are being trampled beneath the sod.

             And nations great and small, have now begun to fall, O come, let us go back to God, go back to God. 

Refrain (2x)


The Soul Stirrers, with Sam Cooke as the lead vocal, popularized this great gospel song. This quartet pioneered a style of singing that developed into soul music, doo-wop, and the Motown sound. Thomas Dorsey’s style of music has had a huge influence in American popular music, and in Christian worship, for generations. He was truly a pioneer and visionary, and we still see his vast influence today.