"Nobody Knows the Trouble I've seen" is a lesser-known, nonetheless authentic, African American spiritual. The unknown folk singer who wrote the original song describes the "trouble" of a hard life, but finds relief from suffering and conflict in prayer. This anthem may be sung as a set with "This Little Light of Mine
" or independently, and is from a set of two, collectively called "Two Uncommon Spirituals." Both are authentic African American spirituals but with completely different tunes than those commonly associated with the texts, and can be performed together or separetely. The powerful message of this spiritual is that prayer brings triumph out of suffering.
African American spirituals are, in my opinion, the finest folk music to arise from U.S. culture. Among the thousands of surviving songs are tunes that are not widely known but deserve to be. My hope is that more people will come to know this wonderful tune, fashioned by an unknown African American, probably a slave. When "Two Uncommon Spirituals" are performed as a set, "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen" is sung first, moving immediately to "This Little Light of Mine." The first spiritual in the set is in the key of D minor, the second in D major. "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen" is dedicated to dear friends David Marston Gillespie and Joanna Bowen Gillespie, retired Episcopal priest and retired historian, respectively. They live in Rochester, Vermont, and Tucson, Arizona.