Like any genre, Southern Gospel has its myths and misconceptions. One of the most publicized of these is that, over the years, Ernie Haase keeps lowering the key in which he performs “Oh, What a Savior.”
I’ve heard this multiple times on enough different message boards that I finally decided it was worth a blog post. Here is a video of Haase singing the song within a few weeks of joining the Cathedrals.
This was in 1990; he was doing it in the key of G. Within about a year’s time, he moved it down to F-sharp. This is a half-step lower. (For those not particularly musically inclined, that’s the smallest distance you can change a key.) With a few exceptions, that’s the key he’s used ever since. Here’s a video of Haase doing the song in F-sharp in 1996.
Oddly enough, he performed the song with the Old Friends Quartet in F in 2001 (see here).
Perhaps that may have been due to other factors, such as Jake Hess’s or Wesley Pritchard’s range. But within a few years, he was again doing the song in F-sharp. Here’s a video of him doing the song with Signature Sound in F-sharp, ca. 2003.
Of course, that was on a professional video. Here’s a version of the song, captured at a regular concert, probably on a video-equipped digital camera.
Here’s a video of him doing the song in F-sharp in 2005.
In summary, after twenty-two years in professional Southern Gospel, with about eighteen of those in the national spotlight, he’s doing the song today only a half-step lower than when he started–a key he’s been using over the past sixteen or so years.
EDIT: I had a complaint from a good friend that the embedded videos took too long to download on dial-up.