A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from February 22, 2007
“If the good Lord’s willin’ (and the creeks don’t rise)”

"If the Good Lord’s Willin’ (and the Creeks Don’t Rise)” means that if all goes well and nothing unforeseen occurs, this event will happen. This is also the title of a Hank Williams, Jr. song.

The phrase dates from at least the 1850s. Sometimes the first part is replaced with “Providence permitting.” Some people have interpreted the saying to be about the Creeks (Indian tribe) rising, but the lack of capitalization seems to indicate that “creek” means a body of water.

Never ask a man if he is from Texas
Good Lord willin’; and the creek don’t rise. 

Longhorns, Aggies & the Texas State of Mind
“God willing and the creek don’t rise” means “if nothing unforeseen happens we’ll be there.”

YAHOO! Music
Hank Williams, Jr. 
If The Good Lord’s Willin’ (And The Creeks Don’t Rise)
From the album: Almeria Club
Genres: Outlaw Country

June 1851, Graham’s American Monthly Magazine of Literature, Art and Fashion, “The Doolittle Delegation to a ‘Woman’s Rights Convention’” by Miss L. Virginia Smith, pg. 447:
“‘Feller-citizens—I’m not ‘customed to public speakin’ before such highfalutin’ audiences....Yet here I stand before you a speckled hermit, wrapt in the risen-sun counterpane of my popilarity, an’ intendin’, Providence permittin’, and the creek don’t rise, to ‘go it blind!’....”

17 November 1868, Petersburg (VA) Index, pg. 2, col. 1:
“Trust in Providence and keep your powder dry,” “God helps them who help themselves,” “Providence permitting and the creek don’t rise,” are all expressions which would never have occurred to a pious Mussulman.

6 August 1892, Portsmouth (OH) Times, pg. 1, col. 2:
Postmaster Clark says that “so preventing providence and the creeks don’t rise” he will get into the new postoffice by the first of October.

In Bad Company and Other Stories
by Rolf Boldrewood
London: Macmillan
Pg. 214: ("Five Men’s Lives for One Horse"):
“I don’t care if it rains till Christmas,” remarked a dissipated-looking youth, who had successfully finished a game of euchre with a dirty pack of cards and an equally unclean companion. “It’s no odds to us, so long’s the creeks don’t rise and block us goin’ to the big smoke to blue our cheques. I don’t hold with too much fine weather at shearin’ time.”

28 Nov. 1908, Portsmouth (OH) Times, p. 4, col. 5:
It sprinkled a bit Monday, just in mocking reminder of what might have been had we been wise enough to return to the good old Democratic days of “Divine Providence permitting and the creeks don’t rise.”

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Thursday, February 22, 2007 • Permalink