April 16

Merle Haggard’s Hauntingly Beautiful Rendition of “I Saw the Light”

“I Saw the Light” is one of the greatest gospel songs written and recorded by Hank Williams. It shows us what God can really do in our life. His guiding light will always lead us to a sinless life. God’s grace will always nurture and care for us until it’s the right time to be with Him.

hank williams i saw the light merle haggard
Photo Credit: Hank Williams Sr./ Rock Hall Library and Archive

Inspiration Behind “I Saw the Light”

Williams was inspired to write the song “I Saw the Light” when his mother woke him up one evening. His mom drove him and his band home to Montgomery, Alabama. As they were approaching Montgomery, Williams mom tried to wake Williams up. The words “I just saw the light” became his inspiration.

Williams first release of the song wasn’t successful. But, it eventually reached the spotlight making it one of Williams’ famous songs.

“I Saw the Light” became a standard gospel song, that’s why artists can’t get enough in recording the song. One version of such was by Merle Haggard.

The Land of Many Churches Live Album

In 1971, Haggard released his live album The Land of Many Churches under his record label Capitol. His album included live performances from Big Creek Baptist Church, Assembly of God Tabernacle, San Quentin Garden Chapel, and Nashville’s Union Rescue Mission. The Land of Many Churches contained twenty-four songs that are either traditional hymns or country gospel songs.

Merle Haggard and the Carter Family

In the album, Haggard together with his band, The Strangers, collaborated with the Carter Family. They joined forces to record Williams’ “I Saw the Light.” Their version is one-of-a-kind, it’s a rare coming together of great artists.

Haggard’s songs in the album were never released as a single. Therefore, none were able to enter the chart. However, his album did secure a spot on the Billboard Country Albums chart.

Check out this amazing rendition of “I Saw the Light.”

What about you, aside from the original version of “I Saw the Light,” whose version do you like the best?


hank williams, merle haggard

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