Magnolia Lewis Butts

A close associate of both Dorsey and Frye was Magnolia Lewis Butts (c,1880-1949). Butts had served as the director of the Youth Choir of the Metropolitan Community Church since 1928, and when Dorsey organized the Gospel choir at Pilgrim, she followed his lead and adopted gospel music for her group. She changed the name of her choir to the Metropolitan Community Church Gospel Chorus in 1932 when she became a cofounder of the NCGCC. While Butts was known then as a great gospel soloist whose small but prominent alto voice could fill a large hall with spirited singing, she is remembered today principally as the composer of “Let It Breathe On Me” (1942), a composition that even in the early 1990s was still being sung during the call to prayer and meditation in many African American services:

Let it breathe on me, let it breathe on me,
Let the breath of the Lord now breathe on me;
Let it breathe on me, let it breathe on me,
Let the breath of the Lord now breathe on me.

Excerpted from the book, “The Golden Age of Gospel” by Horace Clarence Boyer