Charles Albert Tindley
Charles Albert Tindley (1851-1933) was a Methodist preacher in Philadelphia, PA where he served a congregation of primarily African-American members, but one that also included Europeans, Jews, and Hispanics. He was a powerful preacher and often wrote hymns, both lyrics and music, to go with his sermons. His congregation grew until during the height of his ministry in the 1920’s the membership was 12,000 and his church became known as Tindley Temple.
At the turn of the twentieth century Tindley wrote hymns that were embraced by his congregation. These hymns had:
• A text with a subject of conversion, salvation, and heaven – sometimes with overtones of justice and injustice;
• A form of a two-part structure of stanza and chorus;
• A distinctive rhythm characteristic of gospel songs; and
• A chorus that was often performed in antiphonal style.
Tindley planted the seed of black gospel music that was later nurtured by Thomas Dorsey.
On Sunday, April 7, 2019, 6:30 pm in Wightman Chapel, Scarritt Bennett Center will celebrate the life and work of Charles Albert Tindley with a concert of some of his music. Three choirs will be participating in this event: Unity Missionary Baptist, Edgehill United Methodist, and Howard Congregational UCC. Also included will be several soloists, a quartet and piano and organ music by Steve Lindsey and Kevin Madill.
Tindley’s anchor through the adversities of life was Jesus Christ. His faith in Christ’s redemption was so strong that he could declare that there was nothing that could come between him and his Savior. In his powerful hymn, “Nothing between” he enumerates those things, which so easily come between people of faith and their God: the delusive dreams of the world, pride or station, worldly pleasure, hard trails. He pleads with us still – to let nothing between us and Christ. If we do, we too shall triumph at last.
Though a marvelous hymn writer, Tindley was first and foremost a pastor and minister of the gospel, and many of his hymns read like a sermon. He often wrote about the needs of people just to survive. He had confidence that God would indeed provide for the faithful. Hence he wrote:
“Here I may be weak and poor,
With afflictions to endure;
All about me not a ray of light to see.
Just as He has often done,
For His helpless trusting ones,
God has promised to provide for me.”
Charles Tindley also caught the vision of social holiness of the Wesley brothers, John and Charles. He believed firmly that “holy might” would overcome evil and injustice in the world. In his hymn “A better day is coming” we read:
‘A better day is coming,
The morning draweth nigh
When girded right with holy might
Shall overcome the wrong,
When Christ our Lord shall listen
To every plaintive sigh,
And stretch his hand o’er every land
In justice by and by.”
Come and join in the celebration. Be absorbed by the song; experience struggle and hope, joy and sorrow, justice and peace, and a vision of life eternal.
“By and by when the morning comes,
All the saints of God are gathered home,
We’ll tell the story how we’ve overcome,
For we’ll understand it better by and by.”
Joyce D. Sohl, Laywoman-in-Residence
Joyce D. Sohl has been Laywoman-in-Residence since 2009 as a full-time volunteer. She retired as CEO of United Methodist Women in 2004. She is the author of 4 books, a teacher, retreat leader, writer and non-professional musician. Here at the Center her work is in the area of Spirituality & the Arts with such programs as Tuesdays in the Chapel, Vespers & All That Jazz, Poet’s Corner, quarterly retreats, and art exhibits.