Black Church Music Part 1
Concerning Hymns In The African American Church;
I think it's important to note that the majority of hymns we sing in the black church were not written by us. They were given/taught to us by whites. Hymns and European anthems were promoted and ingrained in "US" as a more sophisticated, theologically sound form of worship in lieu of our own songs.
Growing up in the black Baptist church and subsequently studying classical music in college(HBCU) further promoted this music superiority complex ingrained in "US" by Europeans. In most white Universities and some HBCUs, black church music is still seen as unsophisticated and less technical due to the lack of education of many professors, university restrictions and in some cases lack of resources.
I think hymns are important. I've spent more than half my life learning, playing and singing hymns. Many are rooted in sound theology. I think hymns, regardless of who wrote them, should be sung in church. They have and continue to provide spiritual nourishment. My concern is "OUR" exaltation of European hymns and anthems, as we currently define them, as a necessity for worship in the black Church. We exalt "Their" music and degrade/downgrade our own as optional choices. It's even sadder that the majority of black church musicians are not aware of the hymns written by black people.
I see this trend also with CCM/Black Gospel Music but that's another post. I want to encourage African American church musicians to research, learn, introduce and teach your congregations the hymns and anthems that were written by our own people. We've already spent hundreds of years promoting hymns written by others. You may find a deeper connection with your audience. Many of our songs/hymns were written to address "OUR" conditions of which we are still suffering from in many ways.You will unlock new treasures for the people you serve. They may take a little longer to learn but that just speaks to the musicality, sophistication, technical prowess and spirituality of our people that "OTHER CULTURES" have been trying to emulate for years.