Amen (gospel song)

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"Amen" is a traditional folk gospel song that was popularized by The Impressions.

It was recorded in June 1948 and released in January 1949 by the Wings Over Jordan Choir.[1][2]

The song was arranged by Jester Hairston, for the Sidney Poitier film Lilies of the Field (1963), which popularized the song. Curtis Mayfield said "I'd gone to see 'Lilies of The Field,' and the song in it, 'Amen,' was very inspiring for me as was the movie . . . Of course, I'd decided to do a version of it. We put it together in the studio starting off with a musical 'swing low sweet chariot', and then we fell into that particular song with somewhat of a marching rhythm."[3] The song was the first Impressions' hit that Mayfield did not write. Mayfield inserted the title of the song "Keep on Pushing", which was recorded by the Impressions, in-between the lyrics of the song.

The song went to number one on Cashbox Magazine's R&B chart for three weeks and reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in 1964.[4] The B-side, "Long, Long Winter", peaked at #35 on the Cashbox R&B chart. A new version was released by The Impressions in 1969 under the title "Amen (1970)", reaching #44 on the Billboard Best Selling Soul Singles chart in January 1970.

Cover versions[edit]

  • Prior to the Impressions version (December 1960), Marv Meredith's "Salvation Rock" (essentially a version of "Amen") reached the Music Vendor national Top 100.
  • Also a minor chart hit for Lloyd Price and Erma Franklin in 1964 (Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles at #124)
  • In 1968, Otis Redding had a posthumous hit with his version of the song, reaching #15 on the R&B chart.[5]
  • In 1969, The Winstons recorded an instrumental funk cover, which included the infamous Amen Break.
  • Elvis Presley would often perform 'Amen' as part of a medley with "I Got A Woman" in his live performances in the 1970s.


  1. ^ Second Hand Songs, covers of Amen
  2. ^ Encyclopedia of American Gospel Music, Wings Over Jordan, page 429-430
  3. ^ Robert Pruter, Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions, The Anthology, 1961-1977, liner notes
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 272. 
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 486. 

External links[edit]