The Jordanaires / Elvis Presley

Crying in the Chapel

Composed by Artie Glenn

Song Review by

The inspirational song "Crying in the Chapel" was written by Artie Glenn. It is a first-person statement of faith in which the narrator describes his search for peace of mind and his discovery of it in religious devotion as represented in a "plain and simple" chapel. If he has been crying, "the tears I shed were tears of joy," and he assures his listeners that they too will find "the way" if they "take your troubles to the chapel." The song was introduced by Glenn's son, Darrell Glenn, on Valley Records in the summer of 1953. Darrell Glenn's recording reached both the pop and country Top Ten and quickly brought a flurry of cover records. June Valli's version on RCA Victor also hit the pop Top Ten, while Rex Allen's on Decca got into the pop and country Top Ten. The Orioles' recording on Jubilee just missed the pop Top Ten, but it hit number one on the R&B charts in August and went gold. A fifth version by Ella Fitzgerald on Decca was also a pop chart entry. One of the charts, combining the Glenn, Valli, Allen, and Orioles versions, listed "Crying in the Chapel" as the country's number one pop song in October 1953.

"Crying in the Chapel" became a much-performed and recorded song, especially among gospel groups, and a reissue of the Orioles' recording charted in 1959. On the night of October 30-31, 1960, Elvis Presley held a recording session to cut the inspirational album His Hand in Mine. Though "Crying in the Chapel" was not one of the scheduled songs, after midnight Presley began working on it with his vocal backup group the Jordanaires and modest instrumentation led by Floyd Cramer's piano. An acceptable take was not deemed to have been made, however, and the song did not appear on the album. In early 1965, Adam Wade revived "Crying in the Chapel" with a recording on Epic that made the lower reaches of the pop charts for a few weeks. That spring, four and a half years after it had been recorded, RCA Victor fished one of the Presley takes out of its vaults and released "Crying in the Chapel" as an Easter single, with a sleeve note describing it as being part of a "gold standard series," presumably to distinguish it from new Presley releases like the recent "Do the Clam." The record took off, peaking in the Top Five and eventually going platinum, thus becoming Presley's biggest single in two and a half years and the biggest hit he would score for the next five years. It gave his career a shot in the arm at a time when he was mired in bad movies and soundtracks. The renewed exposure given "Crying in the Chapel" led to a fresh spate of covers, making it one of the most successful gospel songs of its time.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
How Great Thou Art 1967 BMG / BMG International 2:24
24 Karat Hits! 1997 DCC Compact Classics
Classic Country: 1965-1969 [2 CD 1999] 1999
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:26
Elv1s: 30 #1 Hits 2002 RCA 2:26
Elvis Presley Party Megamix 2003 Prism Entertainment
blue highlight denotes editor's pick