Clinch Mountain Echo

The Stanley Brothers - The White Dove / Gathering Flowers For The Master's Bouquet

(Columbia 20577) Apr 1949

The White Dove
Gathering Flowers For The Master's Bouquet Billboard advert 30th April 1949 Promotional printed pciture Promotional printed picture (Reverse)
Radio Station 33rpm 7inch The White Dove  (Radio Station 33 rpm 7inch) Gathering Flowers For The Master's Bouquet  (Radio Station 7inch)

The Stanley's debut 78 for Columbia, couples Carter's all-time classic The White Dover with Marvin E. Baumgardner's Gathering Flowers For The Master's Bouquet.

'Billboard' magazine reviewed the record in their 7th May 1949 edition. White Dove, was given a score of 83 and described in their usual understated manner as:- "Here's a strong weeper job, harmonized in the mountain manner and backed by a compelling beat combo". The flipside Gathering Flowers... scored 80 and was described as:- "Group comes on convincingly on top sacred ditty."[1]

The 1966 Mike Seeger / Carter interview[2] has this to say about the single at around the 01:06:54 mark:-

Mike:- How did you come to write The White Dove? That's also one of your better known songs.
Carter:- That was one of the first that I ever tried to write. I really don't know Mike how I come to write it. I do, or have done the most that I've written at night. A lot of times travelling y'know. Nobody's saying much maybe, your mind wanders to one thing to another, I guess you call it imagination.
Mike:- That's very interesting, you say you were traveling at night mostly...
Carter:- Yeah, mostly, most all the work that I've done that way at night. I remember very well when I wrote The White Dove. We was coming from Ashville North Carolina to Bristol Tennessee and I had the light on because I wanted to write it down and Ralph was fussing after me for having the light on. He was driving and said the light bothered him, but he hasn't fussed any more about that...

Ralph later recalled:- "One night in 1848 we were coming back from a personal appearance outside Asheville, headed back home to Bristol. It was late, and outside was pitch black. Carter got to bustling around, first humming a meolody line and then singing some words. He flicked on the dome light and I told him to shut the thing off or he was going to get us killed. I really got puffed up this time because I couldn't see the road. He did what he always did. He just ignored me and went right on with his composing. I didn't know what he was working on, but in an hour or so we were singing it right there in the car. That's the first time I ever knew about 'The White Dove'. After that, I didn't bother him anymore about the light. A song like 'The White Dove' is probably worth getting in a car wreck."

"I don't know what caused him to think of the white dove. I only know he had been studying on it, and how it could affect you. A song like 'The White Dove' is the backbone of the Stanley Brothers. If you go to Smith Ridge, and look around and study the words to 'The White Dove', you can just see it in your mind. He was writing about what he dreaded most. Carter really loved our mother and daddy, and he dreaded the day when, according to nature, he'd have to give them up. He had always visioned going back home and they wouldn't be there. And that was what he visioned in 'The White Dove'."[3]

In addition to the 78 release, there was also a 7" 33rpm single issued with both red 'Stock' and B&W 'Radio station' lables. The format evidently wasn't too popular, and these now seem quite rare, particularly the red 'Stock' copies.

A printed picture flyer announcing that the Stanley Brothers 'Record exclusively for Columbia Records' was also used to help promote the release. Images of this courtesy of Bill Sanguinetti.

Both sides of the single were reissued a few later on 45 (Columbia 54008). Today they can be found on The Complete Columbia Stanley Brothers CD.


For a detailed breakdown and background to the Stanley's session, check Gary B. Reid's The Music Of The Stanley Brothers book, pages 23-25 and 36.

Original Release:
The White Dove
01 Mar 1949
Columbia 20577 Carter Stanley
Ralph Stanley
Bobby Sumner
Pee Wee Lambert
James 'Jay' Hughes

C. Stanley
Gathering Flowers For The Master's Bouquet
01 Mar 1949
Columbia 20577 Carter Stanley
Ralph Stanley
Bobby Sumner
Pee Wee Lambert
James 'Jay' Hughes

Marvin E. Baumgardner

Go To Top Of Page [1] https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=MUUEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA124&lpg=PA124&dq=columbia+20577+billboard&source=bl&ots=XwFjHhRyAn&sig=DdhfdrQWiGDsOMAjsX8ZYlBMQhE&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj33beL9dnUAhWCOsAKHd8tDOoQ6AEIKjAB#v=onepage&q=columbia%2020577%20billboard&f=false
[2] You can hear the interview on youtube: https://youtu.be/YikIUZandsA. I've also attempted to clean some of the noise and you can download an MP3 of the result here (it's saved as a 67Mb zip file).
[3] Ralph Stanley and Eddie Dean's book "Man Of Constant Sorrow" (p.137-139)