“Peace in the Valley” became a hit for Red Foley in 1951. Backed by the Sunshine Boys quartet, Foley’s version reached No. 7 on the Country & Western Best Seller chart. It also became the first gospel music record ever to sell a million copies.
Sadly, on September 19, 1968, Foley died in his sleep after suffering respiratory failure – he was only fifty-eight. But before that, he joined Billy Walker and then nineteen-year-old Hank Williams, Jr., for two Opry performances in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Prior to the second show, Walker remembered Foley visiting his dressing room. Walker then had a chance to share his faith in Christ with Foley, which led to Foley asking Walker, “Do you think God could ever forgive a sinner like me?”
“He began to tell me all the rotten things he had done in his life,” Walker recalled. “And I looked him in the face and said, ‘Red, if God can forgive me, He can forgive you.’ I prayed with Red. He went out, and the last song he sang was “Peace in the Valley.” He came over to the side of the stage and said, ‘Billy, I’ve never sung that song and feel the way I do tonight.'”
A Song That Will Bring You Hope
Written by Thomas A. Dorsey, “Peace in the Valley” is a song about hope. It tells the tale of a man who does not let any difficulties in life bring him down because he knows that this life is not everlasting. And of course, God is also here to give us strength and become our firm foundation. Even in the valleys of life, rest assured we can achieve peace in Him.
“There will be peace in the valley for me someday. There will be peace in the valley for me, oh, Lord, I pray. There’ll be no sadness, no sorrow, no trouble I see. There will be peace in the valley for me,” the song goes.
Dorsey wrote this hymn in 1937 for Mahalia Jackson, the Queen of Gospel. “It was just before Hitler sent his war chariots into Western Europe in the late 1930s,” Dorsey said. “I was on a train going through southern Indiana and saw horses, cows, and sheep all grazing together in this little valley. Everything seemed so peaceful. It made me question, ‘What’s the matter with mankind? Why can’t men live in peace?'” Will all those thoughts, “Peace in the Valley” came into fruition.
The 1930s were also a specially challenging time for Dorsey. In 1930, his wife and their newborn son passed away. “I was doing all right by myself, but the voice of God whispered, ‘You need to change a little,” Dorsey said. And out of those emotions, Dorsey brought to life a hymn that would eventually become very popular throughout the United States and even in other countries later.
“Peace in the Valley” achieved mass coverage during Elvis Presley’s third and final appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. As a way to close the show, Presley then sang and dedicated the song to the 250,000 refugees who fled Hungary after the Soviet Union’s double-invasion of that country in 1956.
Eventually, the song became a country-pop favorite as it was recorded by the likes of Little Richard, Connie Francis, George Jones, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, and Dolly Parton.
Still, Red Foley’s “Peace in the Valley” is one of the best-known renditions there is. You can listen to the song in the video below.