He's Got The Whole World In His Hands

Album: released as a single (1957)
Charted: 12 1


  • First published in the hymnal Spirituals Triumphant, Old and New in 1927, this traditional gospel song broke into the mainstream when 13-year-old British singer Laurie London released an uptempo take in 1957. It went to #1 in 1958 on the newly minted Billboard Hot 100, making London the first British artist to top the tally. The single also holds the record as the only gospel tune to take the #1 spot. In addition to its pop success, it landed at #3 on the R&B chart.
  • As the title implies, the song is a reminder that God is in control of all aspects of his creation and we should take comfort in his presence. From the birds in the air and the fish in the sea to "little bitsy babies" and grown-up gamblin' men, everything is in his hands. Different versions add more to God's grasp, including the sun and the moon, the land and the sea, and the wind and the rain. God's mighty rulership is mentioned throughout the Bible, including Job 12:10, which states: "In his hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of every human being."
  • Frank Warner, a folklorist and singer, happened upon the song in North Carolina in 1933 and introduced it to the American folk circuit throughout the '30s and '40s. He recorded it for the 1952 album American Folk Songs and Ballads.
  • Many gospel and soul singers connected with the message that God is present through all of our struggles, and released their own renditions, including Mahalia Jackson - whose popular version hit #69 on the Hot 100 in 1958 - Marian Anderson, Nina Simone, Odetta, James Booker, and The Sisters of Glory. It was also recorded by pop singers Andy Williams and Pat Boone, among others.
  • British songwriters Jack Waller and Ralph Reader used the song in their 1956 musical, Wild Grows The Heather. They're credited as writers, under the pseudonyms Robert Lindon and William Henry, on London's version.
  • Bandleader Geoff Love arranged London's rendition and performed on the record with his orchestra. He went on to back British Invasion duo Peter & Gordon on their first two hits "A World Without Love" and "Nobody I Know."
  • This was used in several movies including Tootsie (1982, sung by Dustin Hoffman), Roxanne (1987), starring Steve Martin, Dave (1993, sung by Kevin Kline), Con Air (1997, sung by Steve Buscemi), and RocketMan (1997, sung by Harland Williams).

Comments: 2

  • Lou from Calgary AlbertaI was 12 years old when this song became a hit...I purchased the recording with my paper route money...thanks to Lorrie....I sang it going to school, going to hockey practice, going up the stairs to bed I just love this song and also while walking in the deep snow to deliver my daily papers on my route. The song gave me strength, it motivated me, at a young age. I still play it on u tube often and I am 77 years old now, I have taped it many times and still play it a lot while biking...I am wondering what the red car is doing in the recording, it took up a lot of space. I wish Mr. London good health as I think he is about 75 years old now...he looks good. Thanks for letting me share...Lou
  • Joan. Hanson from LouisianaLove the song and Mr London sings it beautiful
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Motley Crue

Motley CrueFact or Fiction

Was Dr. Feelgood a dentist? Did the "Crüecifixion" really happen?

Ian Anderson: "The delight in making music is that you don't have a formula"

Ian Anderson: "The delight in making music is that you don't have a formula"Songwriter Interviews

Ian talks about his 3 or 4 blatant attempts to write a pop song, and also the ones he most connected with, including "Locomotive Breath."

Mike Scott of The Waterboys

Mike Scott of The WaterboysSongwriter Interviews

The stories behind "Whole Of The Moon" and "Red Army Blues," and why rock music has "outlived its era of innovation."

Sarah Brightman

Sarah BrightmanSongwriter Interviews

One of the most popular classical vocalists in the land is lining up a trip to space, which is the inspiration for many of her songs.

David Gray

David GraySongwriter Interviews

David Gray explains the significance of the word "Babylon," and talks about how songs are a form of active imagination, with lyrics that reveal what's inside us.

Jack Tempchin - "Peaceful Easy Feeling"

Jack Tempchin - "Peaceful Easy Feeling"They're Playing My Song

When a waitress wouldn't take him home, Jack wrote what would become one of the Eagles most enduring hits.