Gospel Song – How I Got Over

Gospel Song – How I Got Over

Gospel Song – How I Got Over.

This monumental gospel song was written in 1951 by singer Clara Ward. The song was inspired by an incident in that same year as Clara was traveling with her singing group to Atlanta, Georgia. The segregated South was on full display as they encountered racism in a very personal way. As they stopped at a gas station, their car was surrounded by a large group of white men. These men hurled racist slurs, taunts and threats at them as the singers sat terrified in their car. Much like the anointed David did to escape his enemies, one of the singers decided to act like she was losing her mind. The men decided to leave the singers alone and they fled. Clara Ward used this frightening incident to spark her creative juices, and she composed “How I Got Over.” The song has been sung so often that the lyrics have been occasionally altered, depending on the performer.


LYRICS – How I Got Over

Refrain: How I got over, how I got over. Sometimes my soul looks back in wonder, how did I make it over.

Just as soon as I see Jesus, the man who made me free,

He was the Man who bled a nd suffered, who died for you and me.

I wanna thank Him, because He taught me.

I wanna thank God because He kept me, I wanna thank God, He never left me.

I wanna sing hallelujah, I might shout this evening, troubles are over,

I’m gonna thank Jesus for all He has done for me.


I wanna wear a diamond gem, in the new Jerusalem.

I wanna walk the street of gold, in the homeland of the soul.

I’m going to view the host in white, who travel both day and night,

Coming up from every nation, on the way to the great Coronation.


I wanna thank you, You brought me, You taught me, Lord.

You kept me, and you never left me.



During the 1960’s, “How I Got Over” became a civil rights anthem in the battle cry for unity and equality. The gospel-singing civil rights activist icon Mahalia Jackson even sang it at the historical 1963 March on Washington, D.C., in front of 250,000 people. (See the music  link below). On the one hand, the song is about crossing over the Jordan into heaven, into glory land, meeting Jesus, and walking the streets of gold. The song is clear in its gratitude to Jesus for His salvation and for staying with us until we wear that diamond gem. But on the other hand, this song became a symbol of African American resilience in the face of segregation and racism. The song represented the righteous hopefulness of black Americans in  overcoming the many obstacles on their way to full acceptance and equality. “How I Got Over” speaks to the black population about getting over from discrimination to acceptance, about the victories that African Americans share in standing up to ongoing racism in their lives. “How I Got Over” is about the ultimate triumph of heaven, yes, but it became a song about bringing heaven to earth, about personal triumphs in facing and overcoming racism. The song brought much needed hope and encouragement during the civil rights struggle. The song inspired all those in the civil rights movement to be strong and bring redemption to the evils that the black population have had to endure since the slavery era. “How I Got Over” ended up being an important part of the soundtrack to the fight for justice for all.