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Mon, 07.07.1851

Charles A. Tindley, Minister born

Charles A. Tindley

Charles Albert Tindley was born on this date in 1851. He was a Black Methodist Episcopal minister and lyricist.

Born the son of slave parents in Berlin, Maryland, Tindley taught himself to read and write. Later he attended night school in Philadelphia and took correspondence courses from the Boston School of Theology.  When he took his examination for the ministry, he was the janitor of the Calvary Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia.  During this time he wrote the hymn We Shall Overcome.  In 1902, he became pastor of this same church and he served there for more than 30 years. While he was pastor of Calvary, the membership reached 12,500. Because of such successful leadership, the church was renamed the Tindley Temple Methodist Episcopal Church in 1924.  Tindley is also known as one of the founding fathers of American Gospel music.

An example of this is "Beams of Heaven." Its lyrics include "I do not know how long 'twill be, Nor what the future holds for me. But this I know; if Jesus leads me, I shall get home someday."

Few things with lasting qualities exceed the contributions of African Americans to the world of music. Singing, especially, has always been an integral part of the Black church worship experience. He wrote nearly 50 hymns.  The beginning of the 20th century introduced the contribution of Black songwriters to the service of worship, and one of them was Charles Tindley.  His music captured the confident testimony of his life and ministry until his death in 1933.


An Encyclopedia of African American Christian Heritage
by Marvin Andrew McMickle
Judson Press, Copyright 2002
ISBN 0-817014-02-0

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