Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen

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Louis Armstrong recorded his own cover of this song

"Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen" is an African-American spiritual song that originated during the period of slavery but was not published until 1867. The song is well known and many cover versions of it have been done by artists such as Marian Anderson, Lena Horne, Louis Armstrong, Harry James, Paul Robeson, and Sam Cooke among others.[1] Anderson had her first successful recording with a version of this song on the Victor label in 1925.[2] Horne recorded a version of the song in 1946.[3] The Deep River Boys recorded their version in Oslo on August 29, 1958. It was released on the extended play Negro Spirituals Vol. 1 (HMV 7EGN 27), and the song was arranged by Harry Douglas.

Traditional lyrics[edit]

Nobody knows the trouble I've been through
Nobody knows my sorrow
Nobody knows the trouble I've seen
Glory hallelujah!

Sometimes I'm up, sometimes I'm down
Oh, yes, Lord
Sometimes I'm almost to the ground
Oh, yes, Lord

Although you see me going 'long so
Oh, yes, Lord
I have my trials here below
Oh, yes, Lord

Nobody knows the trouble I've been through
Nobody knows but Jesus
Nobody knows the trouble I've seen
Glory hallelujah!

If you get there before I do
Oh, yes, Lord
Tell all-a my friends I'm coming to Heaven!
Oh, yes, Lord


  • The song appeared as "Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Had" in 1867 in Slave Songs of the United States with additional verses.[4][5]
  • The Jubilee Singers sang a song with a similar chorus and with different tune and lyrics, entitled "Nobody Knows the Trouble I See," first published in 1872.
  • The second line ("Nobody knows my sorrow") or fourth line is changed in some renditions to be "Nobody knows but Jesus".
  • The song appears in the disc of the year 1973 "Mocedades 5" of the Spanish group Mocedades.

Classical variations[edit]

In the late 19th century African-American music began to appear in classical music art forms, in arrangements made by Black composers such as Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Henry Thacker Burleigh and J. Rosamond Johnson. Johnson made an arrangement of "Nobody Knows the Trouble I See" for voice and piano in 1917, when he was directing the New York Music School Settlement for Colored People.[6]

American violinist Maud Powell was the first white solo concert artist to perform classical arrangements of spirituals in concerts, and that is where she also interpreted classical and contemporary pieces by composers like Dvorak and Sibelius. After Powell's suggestion, J. R. Johnson made an arrangement of "Nobody Knows the Trouble I See" for piano and violin in 1919. Powell got to play this in a fall program she organized, and then she died that November.[6] Recent interpretations of the classical version of this spiritual have been made by a Chicago violinist, Rachel Barton Pine, who has been working along the lines of Powell's legacy.[7]

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Paul Robeson Collection
  2. ^ Joel Whitburn, Pop Memories 1890–1954 (1986), Record Research Inc.
  3. ^ Black and White Records
  4. ^ Slave Songs of the United States
  5. ^ Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Had
  6. ^ a b Shaffer, Karen. "American Virtuosa: Tribute to Maud Powell". Archived from the original on 4 October 2013. Retrieved 30 July 2013.
  7. ^ Barton Pine, Rachel. "Nobody Knows the Trouble I see". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-15.
  8. ^ "Boiling Point Season 1 Soundtrack". 2 October 2023.

External links[edit]