We need to cherish the songs that brought us to where we are. Hymns, spirituals, anthems, and gospel are in our musical DNA. Hope, faith, justice, love, deliverance, and confession are needed in the songs written today for a time such as this. Early 20th century gospel music reminds me of hot grits on a cold winter day. They got inside of you, stuck to your ribs, and kept you full. I miss that in the music I hear today.
Gospel music has grown and evolved over its roughly 100 year history. Gospel hymns were first composed in the late 19th century by pastors such as Rev. Albert Tindley, but received widespread acclaim after the ground roots organizing of Professor Thomas A. Dorsey and his Dorsey disciples.
Those songs, as Dr. Margaret Douroux explained- in an interview in “Make A Joyful Noise: A Brief History of Gospel Music Ministry in America” (2011), were hummed by our ancestors as they performed day work to support their families. They were lined in devotion and prayer meetings. They were sung at funerals and baptisms.
We’re starving from the gospel music of the 21st century. It’s fattening; sweet; foot-tapping, hip-swaying good. But- how long does it last? Does it keep you full? Does it edify? exhort? convict? deliver? Is it sounding brass and tinkling cymbal?