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  • Writer's pictureAuthor Bear Mills

A Song in Every Sermon

Updated: Apr 7, 2020

This week's podcast, "Charles Tindley's Hope," introduces a new generation of gospel music fans to the man who created the genre roughly one hundred years ago. You can learn more about his incredible life by going to the PODCAST icon on our site and clicking there.

I wanted you to have easy access to a variety of his songs, which combined sacred music with Negro spirituals to create the first generation of gospel music.

There are two Gaither Homecoming videos in this collection. This is the first.

It's interesting that Tindley's songs were/are published under a variety of titles. The above song bears the titles, "By and By," "We'll Understand It Better," and "When the Morning Comes," among others.

This Joey+Rory song perfectly captures the depth of conviction Tindley included in his songs. Joey was dealing with cancer when this song was recorded. It eventually claimed her life. What she's singing about isn't theoretical.

As we discussed on the podcast, the original Tindley song, "Stand By Me," got a makeover from Sam Cooke in the 1950s and by Ben E. King in 1961. Here's all three versions.

Of all the incredible versions of Ben E. King's classic, this is my hands-down favorite.

"Nothing Between" is the song that first introduced me to Rev. Tindley and his music. It was the best song I'd never heard. My daughter gave me this song, by Spring of Hope, as part of a collection of hymns and praise songs. So grateful. Tindley's music and life are so inspiring.

Fans of Gaither Vocal Band music and Gaither Homecoming videos are familiar with Buddy Greene. Here he is doing the Tindley standard, "Beams of Heaven."

Even Elvis paid tribute to Rev. Tindley, by recording his original version of, "Stand By Me," when the Ben E. King version was dominating pop music charts around the world.

Here's another Gaither Homecoming take on Rev. Tindley's music. The southern gospel flavor here is, I believe, very close to what Tindley's music would have sounded like one hundred years ago if you visited Bainbridge Street Methodist Church.

The various reinterpretations through the years of his music are a tribute to the enduring quality of the core message, even as the arrangements continue to go back and forth from country to sacred, from black gospel to southern gospel.

My hope is that you'll use this as a springboard to learn more about Charles Tindley, whose life was, of course, much more than I could ever capture in a half-hour podcast. But if it inspires you to learn more, and to make Tindley a role model, we have accomplished our intent.

The Tindley hymn, "I Shall Overcome" was reworked later by Pete Seeger into the anthem of the Civil Rights Movement, "We Shall Overcome." Here are both versions.

My favorite quote regarding the life of Tindley came from a former parishioner who said, "There was a song in every sermon and a sermon in every song." Wow.

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