What Are They Doing in Heaven?

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"What Are They Doing in Heaven Today"
Phillips-WhatAreTheyDoing.jpg
Single by Washington Phillips
Format 78 rpm record
Recorded Dallas, Texas, December 5, 1928
Genre Gospel blues
Length 3:15
Label Columbia
Songwriter(s) Charles Albert Tindley
Producer(s) Frank B. Walker [1]

"What Are They Doing in Heaven?" is a Christian hymn written in 1901 by American Methodist minister Charles Albert Tindley. As of 2015, it has become popular enough to have been included in 16 hymnals.[2][3]

The song has sometimes been recorded under the titles "What Are They Doing?" and "What Are They Doing in Heaven Today?". The question mark is often omitted. The song may also be known by its first line, "I am thinking of friends whom I used to know".

The song consists of four verses and a refrain, each four lines long. In both the verses and the refrain, the first three lines rhyme, and the fourth is "What are they doing now?" or some small variant of that. The author reflects on friends who were burdened in life by care, or by disease, or by poverty; and wonders what they might now be doing in Heaven, without giving his answer.[2]

The first known recording of the song is the 1928 one by Washington Phillips (1880–1954; vocals and zither), in gospel blues style.[4] Phillips' recording was used in the soundtrack of the 2005 film Elizabethtown. The song has since been recorded many times in a wide variety of styles, including gospel and bluegrass; sometimes attributed to Phillips or to "anonymous" or to "traditional".

Recordings[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ a b "What Are They Doing in Heaven?". hymnary.org. Retrieved August 24, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Charles Albert Tindley 1851–1933". nethymnal.org. Retrieved August 24, 2015. 
  4. ^ "Washington Phillips discography". wirz.de. Retrieved August 24, 2015. 
  5. ^ George Washington Phillips: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today at AllMusic. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  6. ^ George Washington Phillips: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today?, Composed by Charles Albert Tindley at AllMusic. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  7. ^ Blind Washington Phillips: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today at AllMusic. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  8. ^ Mitchell's Christian Singers: What Are They Doing in Heaven? at AllMusic. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  9. ^ "Perfect "Race" Series numerical listing". 78discography.com. Retrieved September 15, 2015. 
  10. ^ "Banner 32500–33000: Numerical Listing". 78discography.com. Retrieved September 15, 2015. 
  11. ^ "Conqueror records 8000–8500 numerical listing of issues (1932–1935)". 78discography.com. Retrieved September 15, 2015. 
  12. ^ "Melotone Numerical Listing 13000–13500". 78discography.com. Retrieved September 15, 2015. 
  13. ^ Golden Gate Quartet: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today? at AllMusic. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  14. ^ Golden Gate Quartet: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today at AllMusic. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  15. ^ "BLUEBIRD numerical listings 7500–8000". 78discography.com. Retrieved September 15, 2015. 
  16. ^ "Montgomery Ward 7500–8000 numerical listing". 78discography.com. Retrieved September 15, 2015. 
  17. ^ The Southernaires: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today? at AllMusic. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  18. ^ "The Southernaires 1938–1941". Document Records. Retrieved August 26, 2015. 
  19. ^ Boyer, Horace Clarence (February 15, 2000). The Golden Age of Gospel (Music in American Life). University of Illinois Press. p. 173. ISBN 978-0252068775. 
  20. ^ The Lilly Brothers: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  21. ^ The Lilly Brothers: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today? at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  22. ^ The Southern Harmonizers: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today?, Composed by Charles Albert Tindley / Traditional at AllMusic. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  23. ^ "Specialty 78rpm Numerical Listings". 78discography.com. Retrieved August 26, 2015. 
  24. ^ The Mello-Tones: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today? at AllMusic. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  25. ^ Mello-Tones, The – What Are They Doing In Heaven / When The Pearly Gates Unfold at Discogs
  26. ^ Silvertone Singers: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today at AllMusic. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  27. ^ The Dixie Hummingbirds: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  28. ^ "45 Discography for Peacock Records". globaldogproductions.info. Retrieved August 24, 2015. 
  29. ^ Harry & Jeanie West: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today? at AllMusic. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  30. ^ Harry & Jeanie West: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today at AllMusic. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  31. ^ ""What Are They Doing in Heaven Today" – Harry and Jeanie West". Smithsonian Folkways. Retrieved August 25, 2015. 
  32. ^ "Favorite Gospel Songs – Harry and Jeanie West". Smithsonian Folkways. Retrieved August 25, 2015. 
  33. ^ Sister Rosetta Tharpe: What Are They Doing in Heaven at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  34. ^ Sister Rosetta Tharpe: What Are They Doing in Heaven?, Composed by Traditional at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  35. ^ Southern Mission Choir: What Are They Doing in Heaven, Composed by Traditional at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  36. ^ Gospel Tabernacle Choir / The Gospel Tabernacle Choir and Players / Tabernacle Choir / Sister Rosetta Tharpe: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today? at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  37. ^ Sister Rosetta Tharpe – Gospels In Rhythm at Discogs
  38. ^ Famous Fairfield Four: What Are They Doing in Heaven at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  39. ^ The Fairfield Four: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today?, Composed by Charles Albert Tindley at AllMusic. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  40. ^ The Fairfield Four / The Soul Stirrers: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today? at AllMusic. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  41. ^ Unterberger, Richie. The Fairfield Four: The Bells Are Tolling at AllMusic. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  42. ^ The Staple Singers: What Are They Doing (In Heaven Today), Composed by Traditional at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  43. ^ The Staple Singers: This Little Light at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  44. ^ Staple Singers, The – This Little Light at Discogs
  45. ^ Marion Williams: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today?, Composed by Charles Albert Tindley at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  46. ^ Downtown Sister New Heaven, The  – Gospels And Spirituals at Discogs
  47. ^ Slim & the Supreme Angels: What Are They Doing in Heaven? at AllMusic. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  48. ^ Howard "Slim" Hunt / Slim & the Supreme Angels: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today? at AllMusic. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  49. ^ Slim & The Supreme Angels – Glory To His Name at Discogs
  50. ^ Blue Horizon / Vassar Clements / Tom Hanway: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  51. ^ Blue Horizon / Tom Hanway: Tom Hanway & Blue Horizon at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  52. ^ Doug Burns / Paul Hostetter / Randy Masters / Martin Simpson / Joe Weed: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today? at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  53. ^ Gioffre, Daniel. Martin Simpson: A Closer Walk With Thee at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  54. ^ The Pfister Sisters: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today, Composed by Traditional at AllMusic. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  55. ^ The Pfister Sisters: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today?, Composed by Traditional at AllMusic. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  56. ^ The Pfister Sisters: The Pfister Sisters at AllMusic. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  57. ^ What Are They Doing in Heaven Today?, Composed by Charles Albert Tindley at AllMusic. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  58. ^ Michelle Lanchester / Bernice Johnson Reagon / Yesmeen: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today?, Composed by Charles Albert Tindley at AllMusic. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  59. ^ Roberts, John Storm. Various Artists: Wade in the Water: African American Sacred Music Traditions at AllMusic. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  60. ^ Ankeny, Jason. Various Artists: Wade in the Water, Vol. 3: African American Gospel - The Pioneering Composers at AllMusic. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  61. ^ Little Jimmy Scott: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today?, Composed by Charles Albert Tindley at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  62. ^ Little Jimmy Scott: What Are They Doing In Heaven Today, Composed by C. E. Tindley at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  63. ^ Little Jimmy Scott: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  64. ^ Nathan, Dave. Little Jimmy Scott: Heaven at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  65. ^ Little Jimmy Scott: Heaven at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  66. ^ Last Forever: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today?, Composed by Casey Jones at AllMusic. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  67. ^ Sonya Cohen: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today?, Composed by Dick Connette at AllMusic. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  68. ^ Last Forever: Trainfare Home at AllMusic. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  69. ^ Sonya Cohen: Last Forever: Trainfare Home at AllMusic. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  70. ^ Margaret Allison / Angelic Gospel Singers: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today?, Composed by Charles Albert Tindley at AllMusic. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  71. ^ Margaret Allison: Home in the Rock at AllMusic. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  72. ^ Jorma Kaukonen: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today?, Composed by Charles Albert Tindley / Traditional at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  73. ^ Jorma Kaukonen: What Are They Doing In Heaven Today at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  74. ^ Bill Gaither / Gloria Gaither / Babbie Mason: What Are They Doing in Heaven at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  75. ^ Bill Gaither / Babbie Mason: What Are They Doing in Heaven at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  76. ^ Bill Gaither: Heaven at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  77. ^ Bill Gaither: Heaven/Going Home at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  78. ^ The Immortal Lee County Killers: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today?, Composed by Charles Albert Tindley at AllMusic. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  79. ^ Duffy, John. The Immortal Lee County Killers: Love Is a Charm of Powerful Trouble at AllMusic. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  80. ^ Mike "Sport" Murphy / Sport Murphy: What Are They Doing in Heaven, Composed by Charles Albert Tindley at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  81. ^ Taylor, Ken. Mike "Sport" Murphy: Uncle at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  82. ^ Riley Baugus: What Are They Doing in Heaven at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  83. ^ Lankford, Ronnie D., Jr.. Riley Baugus: Long Steel Rail at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  84. ^ Joanne Blum: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today? at AllMusic. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  85. ^ Joanne Blum: Even More Love at AllMusic. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  86. ^ Cabin Fever NW: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today at AllMusic. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  87. ^ Cabin Fever NW: The Door Is Always Open at AllMusic. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  88. ^ Jessy Dixon: What Are They Doing in Heaven? at AllMusic. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  89. ^ Jessy Dixon: Get Away Jordan at AllMusic. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  90. ^ Vince Gill: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today?, Composed by Traditional at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  91. ^ Various Artists: Voice of the Spirit, Gospel of the South at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  92. ^ The Be Good Tanyas: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today, Composed by Traditional at AllMusic. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  93. ^ Boxcar Preachers: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today, Composed by Charles Albert Tindley at AllMusic. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  94. ^ Boxcar Preachers: Auto-Body Experience at AllMusic. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
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  96. ^ Judy Cook: If You Sing Songs ... at AllMusic. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  97. ^ The Great Gospel Crew: What Are They Doing in Heaven at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  98. ^ The Great Gospel Crew: The Greatest Gospel Music at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  99. ^ "The Greatest Gospel Music – The Great Gospel Crew". amazon.co.uk. ASIN B00AV7TF3K. Retrieved August 24, 2015. 
  100. ^ John Reischman / John Reischman & The Jaybirds: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today? at AllMusic. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  101. ^ Ruhlmann, William. John Reischman: Stellar Jays at AllMusic. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  102. ^ Murry Hammond: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today? at AllMusic. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  103. ^ Murry Hammond: I Don't Know Where I'm Going But I'm on My Way at AllMusic. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  104. ^ Jim Byrnes: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today?, Composed by George Washington Phillips at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  105. ^ Jim Byrnes: My Walking Stick at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  106. ^ The Habit: What Are They Doing In Heaven Today?, Composed by George Washington Phillips at AllMusic. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  107. ^ The Habit: The Habit at AllMusic. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  108. ^ Buddy Greene: What Are They Doing In Heaven Today?, Composed by Charles Albert Tindley at AllMusic. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  109. ^ Buddy Greene: A Few More Years at AllMusic. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  110. ^ "Few More Years: Buddy Greene". amazon.com. ASIN B003JMP2O0. Retrieved August 26, 2015. 
  111. ^ The Bright Wings Chorus: What Are They Doing In Heaven Today?, Composed by Charles Albert Tindley at AllMusic. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  112. ^ The Bright Wings Chorus: Here Below at AllMusic. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  113. ^ "Here Below: Bright Wings Chorus". amazon.co.uk. ASIN B0065NPKRY. Retrieved August 26, 2015. 
  114. ^ Dead Rock West: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today, Composed by Traditional at AllMusic. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  115. ^ Allen, James. Dead Rock West: Bright Morning Stars at AllMusic. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  116. ^ Wild Bill Jones: What They Are Doing in Heaven Today, Composed by Washington Phillips at AllMusic. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  117. ^ Wild Bill Jones: The Quiet American at AllMusic. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  118. ^ "Wild Bill Jones: The Quiet American". amazon.com. ASIN B00ANTO3MO. Retrieved August 26, 2015. 
  119. ^ Marcy Marxer: What Are They Doing In Heaven Today? at AllMusic. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  120. ^ Marcy Marxer: Things Are Coming My Way at AllMusic. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  121. ^ "Things Are Coming My Way: Marcy Marxer". amazon.co.uk. ASIN B00BP3WI2E. Retrieved August 26, 2015. 
  122. ^ Mogwai: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today? at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  123. ^ Mogwai. "Mogwai : Music :: Les Revenants". www.mogwai.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-07-06. 
  124. ^ Mavis Staples: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  125. ^ Mavis Staples / Jeff Tweedy: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today at AllMusic. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  126. ^ Colin Stetson: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today?, Composed by Colin Stetson at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  127. ^ Thomas, Fred. Colin Stetson: New History Warfare, Vol. 3: To See More Light at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  128. ^ Béla Fleck / Abigail Washburn: What Are They Doing in Heaven Today?, Composed by Traditional at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  129. ^ Jurek, Thom. Béla Fleck / Abigail Washburn: Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn at AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2015.