Hymns, whether composed for religious contexts or as expressions of spiritual reflection, are historically revered for their redemptive nature. For generations, Black Hymnody has cried out for Christological interventions to end shambolic and systemic oppression against Black people. The vicious murder of George Perry Floyd, Jr. on May 25, 2020 reverberated and initiated, as a catalyst, an overdue global awakening that sparked a catalytic moment for conversations too long deferred. Conversations that question how we experience and name things; how we negotiate trauma; and how we engage one another as neighbors. In many ways, the redemptive nature of hymns has been used in non-redemptive, and perhaps even oppressive ways over the many years. Inspired by the prophetic hope of hymnist, Rev. Charles Albert Tindley (1851-1933), this article will offer a reflective gaze on the intersection of hymnology and the study of race while offering an invitation to expanded ways of holding space for that which has been too long ignored. Issues of agency, mobility and de/coloniality will be explored with an eye towards equity, inclusivity and redemption, not solely in the communal singing of select hymns but also their canonization. Further conversation will be focused on how hymns, sung in congregations, become a form of community expression beyond the Church. Finally, this article will offer insights and hopes for how scholars approach the study of race within their analytical research and interpretative scholarship on hymns.

Author Biography

Emmett G. Price III, Ph.D. is the inaugural Dean of Africana Studies at Berklee College of Music & Boston Conservatory at Berklee. He also serves as Visiting Associate Professor of Music at Harvard University and is founding pastor of Community of Love Christian Fellowship in the Allston neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. Contact Dr. Price at emmettprice.com.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.