15 Jul On This Day in UB History: July 15 (The Unclouded Day)
Josiah K. Alwood was born July 15, 1828, in Cadiz, Ohio. He went on to become a United Brethren minister, and was the father of Olin Alwood, who was a bishop 1905-1921.
In 1879, Alwood wrote the hymn “The Unclouded Day.” Olin Alwood wrote about it in the March 12, 1924, issue of the denominational publication, The Christian Conservator.
At the time, the Alwood family lived in Morenci, Mich. J. K. Alwood had spent the day in an extended discussion with a Seventh Day Adventist minister in the village of Spring Hill, Ohio. Their debate lasted late into the night (Alwood felt he won), and it was around midnight when he climbed atop his horse for the eight-mile ride back to Morenci.
As he entered Morenci, Alwood saw what his son described simply as “a rainbow by moonlight.” J. K.’s description was more elaborate, the scene seared into his memory. “I saw a rainbow which was caused by the rays of the moon streaming against a shower of rain falling from a dark, dense cloud a short distance beyond the northwestern limits of our sleeping Morenci. The moon was low in the cloudless southeastern sky. It was a new sight to me; and you can scarcely imagine the feeling of solemn joy which came over me as I gazed upon the lovely segment of the bow of promise smiling on our quiet town.”
As that description showed, Alwood had a strong poetic streak. The next morning, he awoke with the start of a song in his head. He spent the next two days composing the four verses. Olin, who was just a child then, wrote:
“The extent of his ability as a musician was to drum a tune by ear with one finger on the very modest Estey organ the home afforded. This he proceeded to do to provide an air for his song. Soon we heard him singing some new strange strains and words as new. A new song had been made.”
Some time later, an old acquaintance named J. F. Kinsey, who was a vocal music teacher, asked J. K. Alwood if he had any music to suggest. Josiah sang his song, and Kinsey asked for permission to arrange the hymn for publication.
Olin Alwood said they never received any money for the song, and there was even an attempt to discredit his father’s authorship. “But I well remember seeing him write the words and then drum out the tune on the organ. We at home were the first who ever heard it sung.”
Bishop Milton Wright wrote of Josiah Alwood upon his death in 1909, “Always stood for the right as he saw it. Always interesting in his preaching, but as often quite peculiar, for he was like no one else.”
O they tell me of a home far beyond the skies,
O they tell me of a home far away;
O they tell me of a home where no storm clouds rise,
O they tell me of an unclouded day.