All My Trials

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"All My Trials"
Song by Bob Gibson
from the album Offbeat Folksongs
Released1956 (1956)
GenreAmerican folk song

"All My Trials" is a folk song which became popular during the social protest movements of the late 1950s and 1960s. Alternative titles it has been recorded under include "Bahamian Lullaby" and "All My Sorrows." The origins of the song are unclear,[1][2][3] as it appears to not have been documented in any musicological or historical records (such as the Roud Folk Song Index, Archive of American Folk Song, or an ethnomusicologist's field recordings or notes) until after the first commercial recording was released (as "Bahamian Lullaby") on Bob Gibson's 1956 debut album Offbeat Folksongs.[4]


In the first commercial release on the 1956 album Offbeat Folksong, Gibson did not mention the history of the song. The next two artists to release it, Cynthia Gooding (as "All My Trials" in 1957[5]) and Billy Faier (as "Bahamian Lullaby" in 1959[6]), both wrote in their albums' liner notes that they each learned the song from Erik Darling. Gooding explained it was "supposed to be a white spiritual that went to the British West Indies[7] and returned with the lovely rhythm of the Islands," presumably as told to her by Darling.[5] Faier wrote that he heard Darling sing the song "four or five times in spring 1954," when Darling would have been performing with his folk group The Tarriers.[8] However, bibliographic folk song indexes, such as the Traditional Ballad Index[9] do not mention the Bahamas as an origin, listing it as unknown.[1]

The Joan Baez Songbook (published 1964; Baez released the song as "All My Trials" in 1960) suggests it began as a pre-Civil War era American Southern gospel song, which was introduced to the Bahamas where it became a lullaby, and was forgotten in the US until it was brought back from the Bahamas and popularized during the roots revival.[10]


The song tells the story of a mother on her death bed, comforting her children, "Hush little baby, don't you cry./You know your mama's bound to die," because, as she explains, "All my trials, Lord,/Soon be over." The message — that no matter how bleak the situation seemed, the struggle would "soon be over" — propelled the song to the status of an anthem, recorded by many of the leading artists of the era.[original research?]

The song is usually classified as a Spiritual because of its biblical and religious imagery. There are references to the "Lord", "a little book" with a message of "liberty", "brothers", "religion", "paradise", "pilgrims" and the "tree of life" awaiting her after her hardships, referred to as "trials". There is an allegory of the river Jordan, the crossing thereof representing the Christian experience of death as something which "...chills the body but not the soul." The river/death allegory was popularised by John Bunyan in his classic, The Pilgrim's Progress and the wording echoes the teaching of Jesus, to "...fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul." (Matthew 10:28)[original research?]

Chart Appearances[edit]



  1. ^ a b Waltz, Robert B.; Engle, David G. "All My Trials". The Traditional Ballad Index - Fresno State University. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  2. ^ Terrell, Steve (July 9, 2015). "All My Trials Over "All My Trials"". Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  3. ^ Moran, Jim (March 18, 2010). "All My Trials/All My Sorrows". Comparative Video 101. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  4. ^ "Discography of the Riverside Label" (PDF). Both Sides Now Publications. July 14, 2011. p. 35. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  5. ^ a b Gooding, Cynthia (1957). Faithful Lovers and Other Phenomena (liner notes). Cynthia Gooding. New York: Elektra.
  6. ^ "Discography of the Riverside Label" (PDF). Both Sides Now Publications. July 14, 2011. p. 34. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  7. ^ In the late 1950s this included the Bahamas
  8. ^ Faier, Billy (1959). Travelin' Man (liner notes). Billy Faier. New York: Washington Records. Reeves Sound Studios.
  9. ^ "The Traditional Ballad Index - Fresno State University" eds. Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle
  10. ^ Baez, Joan (1964). Solomon, Maynard (ed.). The Joan Baez Songbook (1st ed.). New York: Amsco Pub. ISBN 9780825626111.
  11. ^ "Dick and DeeDee All My Trials Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  12. ^ Dick and Dee Dee, "All My Trials" chart position Retrieved May 2, 2015
  13. ^ "Ray Stevens All My Trials Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  14. ^ "Ray Stevens All My Trials Adult Contemporary Chart History". Billboard.
  15. ^ "All My Trials Official Charts Company". The Official Charts. The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  16. ^ "American Favorite Ballads, Vol. 4 [1961] - Pete Seeger". AllMusic.
  17. ^ a b Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 31 - Ballad in Plain D: An introduction to the Bob Dylan era. [Part 1]" (audio). Pop Chronicles. University of North Texas Libraries. Track 2.
  18. ^ Greene, Andy (January 21, 2015). "The 10 Best Elvis Presley Songs". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  19. ^ "All My Sorrows - Lindsey Buckingham". AllMusic.