Gospel Desk

Working on a Building

Working on a Building is “a song in both the African American spiritual and southern gospel traditions. The song has become a standard of the genres” (Wikipedia). I learned the southern gospel version from my father. I’ve taken it as a theme song of sorts for Gospel Desk, and specifically for our guest house.

This page catalogs 253 recordings of Working on a Building by 165 artists, collected on YouTube. They are grouped according to the two main versions of the song, and roughly ordered within each group by the year recorded. (See the appendix for more on methodology.)

The purpose of this page is to make it easier for myself and others to become familiar with the breadth and depth of this song. I don’t actually want to venture too far into interpretation right now (ever?), but to help you approach the material, I’ve highlighted twelve recommendations for where to start. Don’t stop there, though. There are many individual gems and overarching patterns here to discover. Enjoy!

Highlights YouTube Playlist

Highlights YouTube Playlist

African American Spiritual

I’m working on the building.
It’s a true foundation.
I’m holding up the blood-stained
banner for my Lord.

When I get through
working on the building,
I’m gonna go up to heaven
and get my reward.


  1. The Heavenly Gospel Singers (1936)
  2. The Blackwood Brothers (194?)
  3. Deacon Tom Foger & The Camp Meeting Choir (1948)
  4. The Jordanaires (1950) - 195?
  5. Bro. Joe May (1951; alt) - 195?
  6. B.B. King & Little Richard (1959; alts)
  7. Highway QC’s (1960; alt; alt)
  8. Elvis Presley (1960; alts) - karaoke - lolwut - lololwutwut
  9. Blind Boys of Alabama (1961)
  10. Rev. Gary Davis (1962)
  11. Rev. Louis Overstreet (196?) - 1963
  12. James Herndon Singers (1973)
  13. Dr. C. J. Johnson (1976; alt)
  14. Benny Cummings (1979) - lolwut
  15. Margaret Allison & The Angelic Gospel Singers (1991)
  16. Albertina Walker (1994; alt)
  17. Golden Gate Quartet (1994)
  18. Bo Katzman (2002)
  19. The Palmetto Gospel Singers (2002)
  20. Timothy W. Tidwell (2007)
  21. cdmusic88 (2008)
  22. St. Thomas Baptist Church (2009)
  23. Spiritual Keys (2009)
  24. Anointed Voices of Grace (2009) - 2011
  25. Pastor David Wright (2011)
  26. Bp. Carlton Pearson (2011; alt)
  27. Blackwood Quartet (2011) - 2015
  28. Gaither Vocal Band (2012) - 2016 - 2017
  29. Boys Choir of Kenya (2012)
  30. Cedar Grove AME Zion (2012) - 2012 - 2013
  31. Miles Chapel Choir (2013)
  32. David Thibault (2013)
  33. St. Paul Baptist Church (2015)
  34. Bob Henderson (2016?)
  35. Billy Ramey (2017)
  36. Herb Mac (2017)
  37. Heritage Singers (2019) - 2019
  38. The Singing Contractors (2019)
  39. The Gospel Pearls (2019)
  40. Charlie W. (2020)

Both!

  1. Mylon LeFevre (1972)
  2. Shani Judd Diehl & Stephanie Dawn (2015?)

Southern Gospel

I’m working on a building,
I’m working on a building.
I’m working on a building
for my Lord, for my Lord.

It’s a Holy Ghost building,
it’s a Holy Ghost building.
It’s a Holy Ghost building
for my Lord, for my Lord.


  1. The Carter Family (1934; remastered) - 1936 (alt) - 1963
  2. J.E. Mainer’s Mountaineers (1946)
  3. Bill Monroe (1954) - 1956 (alt; alt; alt) - 1973 (alt) - 1989 - 1989
  4. Ralph Stanley (1962) - 196? - 1971 (alt; alt; alt)
  5. Jim Williams (1962)
  6. Charlie Monroe (1962)
  7. Mark Spoelstra (1963)
  8. Stringbean (196?; alt)
  9. Hylo Brown (1967)
  10. New Kentucky Colonels (1971)
  11. John Fogerty (1972)
  12. Old & In the Way (1973; alt)
  13. The Seldom Scene (1983) - 1986 - 2005 (alt, alt) - 2010
  14. The Johnson Mountain Boys (1988) - 1992
  15. Cowboy Junkies (1988; alt; alt; alt) - 2008 - 2018
  16. Col. Bruce Hampton (1991) - 2000 - 2015
  17. Del McCoury (1991) - 2011 - 2012 - 2018
  18. Bad Livers (1993)
  19. Tim O’Brien (1994, w/ Hot Rize) - 2006 (w/ Hot Rize) - 2007 - 2008 - 2008 - 2009 (w/ Two Oceans Trio) - 2009 - 2011 (w/ band) - 2011 (alt) - 2011 - 2012 - 2012 - 2012 (w/ Bryan Sutton) - 2012 - 2012 - 2013 - 2013 - 2013 (careful!) - 2013 - 2014 - 2015 - 2016 - 2016 - 2017 - 2017 - 2017
  20. Gillian Welch & Co. (199?)
  21. Alison Krauss (1997)
  22. The Meat Purveyors (1999)
  23. The Oak Ridge Boys (2001) - 2005
  24. America’s Bluegrass Band (2005)
  25. Armando Zuppa (2005)
  26. Charlie Daniels (2005) - 2016
  27. Abbott Family (2006)
  28. Morris Brothers (2006; alt)
  29. Kruger Brothers & Maynard Holbrook (2006)
  30. Rob McNurlin & The Beatnik Cowboys (2007)
  31. Steven O. Hanson (2007)
  32. James Reams & The Barnstormers (2007)
  33. Doerfel Family (2007)
  34. Casey Driessen (2007, w/ Nashville Acoustic All Stars) - 2007 (w/ The Colorfools) - 2011 (transcription) - 2012 (w/ Jerry Douglas Band) - 2012 (w/ Jerry Douglas Band) - 2012 - 2013 - 2013 - 2014? (w/ band) - 2016 (workshop)
  35. Robirohi (2007)
  36. The Sons of Navarone (2007)
  37. The Seventy Sevens (2008) - 2008
  38. Dan Zanes (2008)
  39. The Underwoods (2008)
  40. Jimbo Whaley & Greenbrier (2008)
  41. The Bluegrass Tarheels (2008)
  42. Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives (2008) - 2010 - 2011 - 2011 (alt) - 2015
  43. Sugarloaf Mountain Boys (2009)
  44. Tim Hensley & Friends (2009)
  45. Runaway Freight (2009)
  46. Harry & Jeanie West (2009)
  47. Patty Loveless (2009) - 2009 (live)
  48. paxgnbru (2010?)
  49. Jill Mason and Heartland Bluegrass Band (2010)
  50. Smoky Mountain String Band (2010)
  51. Jimmy Richter (2010)
  52. Aaron Keim (2010)
  53. Charlie Feathers (2010; alt)
  54. Andrew Hardin & Jeannie Burns (2011)
  55. The Steel Wheels (2011) - 2013 - 2018
  56. Lynn Goldsmith (2012)
  57. Harry Stinson (2012)
  58. Kids on Bluegrass (2012)
  59. The Tuttles (2012) - 2016
  60. Trace Adkins, et al. (2012; alt; alt)
  61. Irl Hees (2012)
  62. Brooklyn Bluegrass Bash (2012) - 2013
  63. Scott Warren & The Booze Mountaineers (2012)
  64. Don Rigsby & Midnight Call (2012)
  65. The Sullivans (2012)
  66. Carriage House Bluegrass (2012)
  67. The Burns Sisters (2012)
  68. Open Orchard Revival (2012)
  69. Roscoe Morgan and Brad Meinerding (2013)
  70. David Mold (2013)
  71. Song A Week Social Group (2013)
  72. County Road 44 (2013)
  73. Wally G. Waters & The Isaacs (2013)
  74. The Lindsey Family (2013)
  75. Vickie Vaughn Band (2013) - 2015
  76. Marley’s Ghost (2013)
  77. Kinard Community Holiness Church Kids (2013)
  78. Lovin’ Bluegrass (2014)
  79. Hot Flannel (2014)
  80. Josh Daniel / Mark Schimick Project (2014)
  81. Rockspring (2014)
  82. The Baker Family (2014)
  83. The Wayfaring Strangers (2014)
  84. Good Wolf Sessions (2014)
  85. Greensky Bluegrass (2014)
  86. In Achordance (2014)
  87. Williamson Branch (2015) - family group, cute kid
  88. Tim Menzies (2015) - 2016
  89. Boots On The Ground (2015)
  90. Johnny Staats & The Delivery Boys (2015)
  91. James McKinney & Peter Langston (2015)
  92. Clearfork (2015)
  93. Cumberland River Band (2015)
  94. The Dead Brothers (2015)
  95. A Deeper Shade of Blue (2015)
  96. Salt & Light (2015)
  97. Kentucky Lake Cowboy Church (2015)
  98. Bill Jenkins (2015)
  99. Pierre Bonjour, Jean-Marie Redon, Sharon Lombardi (2016)
  100. Jeffery Smith (2016)
  101. The Nashville Jam (2016)
  102. The Lower Lights (2016)
  103. Marcel and Nakos (2016)
  104. Wikiup (2016)
  105. The Danberrys (2016)
  106. BackCountry (2017)
  107. Dave Adkins (2017)
  108. Jordan’s Crossing (2017)
  109. Pigeon Hawk (2017)
  110. Beg Steal Or Borrow (2017)
  111. Skydiggers (2017)
  112. Blind Pig and the Acorn (2018)
  113. Jason Crabb (2017) - 2018 - 2018 - 2018 - 2018 - 2018 - 2020
  114. The Amish Country Theater Bluegrass Band (2018)
  115. David Parmley & Cardinal Tradition (2018)
  116. The Modern Grass (2018)
  117. Chris Rodrigues & Abby the Spoon Lady (2019)
  118. Josh Holstein (2019)
  119. HilliBilli Trio (2019)
  120. Deadbeat & Camara (2019)
  121. Dan Trabue (2019)
  122. Jeremy Charlie (2019)
  123. Kasia (2020)

Appendix A: Lessons

  1. Troy Brenningmeyer (2009; dobro)
  2. Ryan Kimm (2017; guitar)
  3. Bluegrass Backing Tracks (2017)

Appendix B: Similarly Named Songs

Working on a Building of Love
  1. Chairmen of the Board (1972; alt; alt)
  2. Ryan Shaw (2000)
Working on the Building
  1. Quazar (1978)
Working on a Building of Love
  1. The Fantastic Four (1989; alt)
Working on the Building
  1. Wendell B. (2010)
Working On My Building
  1. Maurice McZeke & MDK (2013)

Appendix C: Methodology

I searched for “working on a building” on YouTube between March 20 and April 27, 2020, and also systematically looked through the suggestions in the sidebar (by scrolling four or five pages of suggestions into view and then using Chrome’s find feature). YouTube’s search results and suggestions are only partially based on the title, and a search on April 27 returned different results than an hour earlier, and significantly different results than the same search on March 20. I went back through my browser history to ensure I was including recordings I had noticed during earlier searches that were not being included in later searches. I performed two more specific searches for “working on a building casey driessen” and “[…] tim o’brien,” to satisfy myself that I had made a reasonable effort to discover all available recordings by these two master fiddlers. Lastly, I cross-checked SecondHandSongs, and I picked up a few more that way.

As to dates, I mostly pulled them from YouTube descriptions. In some cases I did a little Google searching to find a year to go with a recording (though I decided not to track the details for each case). I used the YouTube upload date where I had to; where that seemed especially suspect, or where I’ve only been able to narrow down to a decade, I’ve added a question mark. I didn’t try very hard to sort further by date within years, so consider this a rough and partial ordering.

Where more than one video presents the same recording, I picked one as the primary and linked the others as “alt.” The Elvis and B.B. King/Little Richard versions have so many uploads that I didn’t bother trying to list them all here.

YouTube doubtless contains recordings of Working on a Building that are not included here—to say nothing of recordings that are not on YouTube to begin with, or that have been added after I compiled this list. This catalog is, however, sufficient for its intended purpose. Enjoy!

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