From the beginning of the Christian Church, singing and preaching have served as major tools of communication. In fact, they remain the most utilized methods of articulating and explicating personal and communal theologies across the diverse and expansive expressions of Christianity.

From the life, ministry, and legacy of Jesus Christ through the teachings of the Apostle Paul, the roles and functions of singing and preaching are well known but not well studied as a unit. From the foundational writings of the early Church Fathers through the various theses of the reformers, the acts of singing and preaching have been studied and even debated separately, but rarely conjointly.

This article utilizes the disciplines of musicology, the study of the composition and delivery of music, and homiletics, the study of the composition and delivery of a sermon, to offer insight into why it is imperative to study singing and preaching together, in addition to studying them separately. In order to effectively use the two aforementioned disciplines to guide analysis, this paper offers the Black Christian experience as a case study in order to draw perspectives from the longstanding traditions of gospel singing and “Black preaching.” Within the Black Christian experience, singing and preaching not only serve as independent articulations of theology and faith, but also quite often work in tandem as the homilist, or preacher, sings the sermon.

Author Biography

Emmett G. Price III is associate professor of ethnomusicology and music industry at Northeastern University (Boston) and teaches on the history and theology of worship at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (South Hamilton, Mass.). He is the author of Hip Hop Culture (ABC-CLIO, 2006), executive editor of the Encyclopedia of African American Music (Greenwood Press, 2011), and editor of The Black Church and Hip Hop Culture: Toward Bridging the Generational Divide (Scarecrow Press, 2012). He has authored numerous articles and book chapters and writes regularly for GIA Quarterly: A Liturgical Music Journal. He is the former editor-in-chief of the Journal of Popular Music Studies, the academic journal for the United States Chapter of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music. He is currently working on a theological primer for church musicians.

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