“ I'll Fly Away", is a hymn written in 1929 by Albert E. Brumley and published in 1932 by the Hartford Music company in a collection titled Wonderful Message. "I'll Fly Away" has been called the most recorded gospel song and it is frequently used in worship services and performed at funerals. Earliest known recoring is from " The Selah Singers " But the Chuck Wagon Gang
( 1948 ) made the song popular.
Brumley's writing was influenced by the 1924 secular ballad, "The Prisoner's Song".
Albert E. Brumley has been described as the "pre-eminent gospel songwriter" of the 20th century with over 600 published songs. Other popular songs by Brumley include "Jesus, Hold My Hand
", "Turn Your Radio On
", "I'll Meet You in the Morning
", and "This World Is Not My Home". According to interviews, Brumley came up with the idea for the song while picking cotton on his father's farm in Rock Island, Oklahoma. Brumley says that as he worked he was "humming the old ballad that went like this: 'If I had the wings of an angel, over these prison walls I would fly,' and suddenly it dawned on me that I could use this plot for a gospel-type song." The song Brumley described appears to be "The Prisoner's Song". It was an additional three years later until Brumley worked out the rest of the song, paraphrasing one line from the secular ballad to read, "Like a bird from prison bars has flown" using prison as a metaphor for earthly life. Brumley has stated, "When I wrote it, I had no idea that it would become so universally popular."