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Charles Albert Tindley

Rev. Dr. Charles Albert Tindley (July 7, 1851 – July 26, 1933) was an American Methodist minister and gospel music composer.

Often referred to as "The Prince of Preachers", he educated himself, became a minister and founded one of the largest Methodist congregations serving the African-American community on the East Coast of the United States.

Tindley's father was a slave, but his mother was free. Tindley himself was thus considered to be free, but even so he grew up among slaves. After the Civil War, he moved to Philadelphia, where he found employment as a hod carrier (brick carrier). He and his wife Daisy attended the Bainbridge St. Methodist Episcopal Church. Charles later became the sexton, a job with no salary.

Never able to go to school, Tindley learned independently and by asking people to tutor him. He enlisted the help of a Philadelphia synagogue on North Broad St. to learn Hebrew and learned Greek by taking a correspondence course through the Boston Theological School.* Without any degree, Tindley was qualified for ordination in the Methodist Episcopal Church by examination, with high ranking scores. He was ordained as a Deacon in the Delaware Conference in 1887 and as an elder in 1889. As was the practice of the ME church, Tindley was assigned by his bishop to serve as an itinerant pastor staying a relatively short time at each charge: 1885 to Cape May, New Jersey, 1887 to South Wilmington, Delaware, 1889 to Odessa, Delaware. 1891 to Pocomoke, Maryland, 1894 to Fairmount, Maryland, and 1897 to Wilimington Delaware at Ezion Methodist Church. In 1900 he became the Presiding Elder of the Wilmington District.

Tindley then became the pastor of the same church at which he had been a janitor. Under his leadership, the church grew rapidly from the 130 members it had when he arrived. In 1906 the congregation moved from Bainbridge St. to Broad and Fitzwater Sts. and was renamed East Calvary Methodist Episcopal Church. The property was purchased from the Westminster Presbyterian church and seated 900, though it was soon filled to overflowing. The congregation over time grew to a multiracial congregation of 10,000.[1] After his death, the church was renamed "Tindley Temple." The Tindley Temple United Methodist Church was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2011.

Tindley was acquainted with politicians and business leaders in Philadelphia, including John Wanamaker. He worked with business leaders to assist his members in finding jobs. He also encouraged members to start their own businesses and purchase homes. The church formed the East Calvary Building and Loan Association to offer mortgages. Tindley also solicited donations from businessmen of food for the congregation's ministry of feeding the needy.

Tindley objected to social events that he considered degrading, including the 1912 Cake Walk and Ball, and The Soap Box Minstrels show at the Academy of Music on Broad and Locust Streets. In 1915, Tindley and other leaders, including Rev. Wesley Graham, led protesters in a march to the Forrest Theater to protest against the showing of D. W. Griffith's film The Birth of a Nation. They were attacked by whites with clubs, sticks, and bottles. Graham was hospitalized; Tindley's injuries were treated at home.

Tindley was given a Doctor of Divinity Degree by Bennett College and Morgan College in Baltimore Md.

Tindley was a noted songwriter and composer of gospel hymns and is recognized as one of the founding fathers of American gospel music. Five of his hymns appear in the 1989 United Methodist Hymnal. His composition "I'll Overcome Someday" is credited by some observers to be the basis for the U.S. Civil Rights anthem "We Shall Overcome,". Another of his notable hymns is "(Take Your Burden to the Lord and) Leave It There" (1916), which has been included in several hymnals and has been recorded by numerous artists in a variety of styles. Others are "Stand by Me" (1905) and "What Are They Doing in Heaven?" (1901).

Tindley published his songs beginning in 1901, and published several hymn collections, including Soul Echoes in 1905 (enlarged edition "No. 2", 1909) and a series beginning with New Songs Of Paradise! in 1916. A posthumous New Songs of Paradise, No. 6 in 1941 was the first collection to bring together all 46 of Tindley's published hymns, though in some cases stanzas that had previously been published were left out. Beams of Heaven: Hymns of Charles Albert Tindley (1851-1933) (2006) restores the full original complement of verses.

He died on July 26, 1933 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is interred at Eden Cemetery in Collingdale, Pennsylvania.

Birth and Death Data: Born July 7th, 1851 (Berlin), Died July 26th, 1933 (Philadelphia)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1925 - 1939

Roles Represented in DAHR: composer, lyricist, songwriter, arranger

Recordings

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor BVE-39638 10-in. 7/8/1927 Bye and bye Frank McCravy ; James McCravy Male vocal duet, with instrumental ensemble composer  
Victor BVE-46030 10-in. 6/30/1928 Nothing between Pace Jubilee Singers Mixed vocal chorus, with organ composer  
Victor BVE-46032 10-in. 6/30/1928 Stand by me Pace Jubilee Singers Mixed vocal chorus, with piano composer  
Victor BVE-46033 10-in. 6/30/1928 Leave it there Pace Jubilee Singers Mixed vocal chorus, with piano composer  
Victor BVE-55612 10-in. 7/15/1929 What are they doing in heaven? Frank McCravy ; James McCravy Male vocal duet, with instrumental ensemble songwriter  
Victor BS-75809 10-in. 5/3/1933 Leave it there Smilin' Ed McConnell Male vocal solo, with organ lyricist, composer  
Victor BS-75823 10-in. 5/3/1933 Leave it there Smilin' Ed. McConnell Male vocal solo, with organ composer, arranger, lyricist  
Victor BVE-82855 10-in. 7/31/1934 We'll understand it better bye and bye Smith’s Sacred Singers Male vocal quartet, with piano composer, lyricist  
Victor BS-031938 10-in. 2/1/1939 What are they doing in heaven today? Gospel Light Jubilee Singers Male vocal quartet, unaccompanied composer, lyricist  
Columbia W146154 10-in. 4/20/1928 Nothing between Paul and John, the Disciples of Harmony Male vocal duet composer, lyricist  
Columbia W147575 10-in. 12/5/1928 What are they doing in heaven today? Washington Phillips Male vocal solo, with table zithers songwriter  
OKeh 9348 10-in. Sept. 1925 Nothin' between Rev. Wm. McKinley Dawkins Male vocal solo, with piano lyricist, composer  
OKeh S-73192 10-in. Feb. 1925 We'll understand it better bye and bye Frank McCravy ; James McCravy Male vocal duet, with instrumental trio composer, lyricist  
OKeh W403109 10-in. 10/13/1929 What are they doing in heaven today? Golden Crown Quartet Male vocal quartet, unaccompanied composer, lyricist  
OKeh W403850 10-in. 3/26/1930 The better home Frank McCravy ; James McCravy Male vocal duet, with fiddle (violin), guitar, and piano composer, lyricist  
OKeh W403977 10-in. 4/23/1930 Leave it there McCravy Brothers Male vocal duet, with 2 fiddles (violins) and guitar lyricist, composer  
OKeh W403978 10-in. 4/23/1930 Stand by me McCravy Brothers Male vocal duet, with 2 fiddles (violins) and guitar composer, lyricist  
OKeh W404697 10-in. 12/12/1930 Stand by me Sister Clara Hudmon Female vocal solo, with responses, mixed vocal trio, and piano composer, lyricist  
Brunswick E22966-E22967 10-in. 5/5/1927 Nothing between Old Southern Sacred Singers Male vocal quartet, with organ composer, lyricist  
Brunswick E25507-E25508 10-in. 12/10/1927 Bye and bye Frank McCravy ; James McCravy Male vocal duet, with violin, cello, and piano composer  
Brunswick E25564-E25565 10-in. 12/13/1927 Leave it there Frank McCravy ; James McCravy vocal duet with violin, guitar, and piano composer  
Brunswick E25680-E25681 10-in. 12/19/1927 What are they doing in heaven today James McCravy Male vocal solo, with violin, guitar, and piano lyricist, composer  
Brunswick E27932-E27932A 10-in. 7/31/1928 Stand by me Frank McCravy ; James McCravy Male vocal duet, with instrumental trio composer, lyricist  
Edison 18752 10-in. 9/24/1928 We'll understand it better bye and bye North Carolina Ramblers ; Posey Rorer Vocal and instrumental ensemble lyricist, composer  
Edison N-455 12-in. 9/24/1928 We'll understand it better bye and bye North Carolina Ramblers ; Posey Rorer Vocal and instrumental ensemble composer, lyricist  

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Tindley, Charles Albert," accessed August 8, 2020, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/103553.

Tindley, Charles Albert. (2020). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved August 8, 2020, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/103553.

"Tindley, Charles Albert." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2020. Web. 8 August 2020.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/103553

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