How Mary Hinton, VP for Academic Affairs at Mount Saint Mary College, Is Tracing the History of the Black Church and Black Community Through Gospel Music

Mary Hinton
Mary Hinton

Mary Hinton of Milford says you can trace the history of the church and the black community though Gospel music.

Hinton, vice president for academic affairs at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, recently blended song, soul and scholarship in the presentation “Gospel Music in Black Churches.”

In the historic black church, praying, preaching, and singing are viewed as the three pillars of religious life, Hinton said.

Before African Americans were allowed open access to the pulpit or were provided the space and opportunity for prayer, they created and shared communal songs.

These spirituals focused on freedom, resistance, and a quest for humanity.

“During the presentation we learned that many people and traditions utilize song and praise to celebrate their history,” said Hinton. “We shared our passion for music and song, and some even contributed their beautiful voices to the experience.”

The evolution of black sacred music beyond spirituals went through several phases, including songs of sorrow, prayer and praise songs, meter music, hymns of improvisation, and historic and modern gospel music.

Each of the musical phases corresponds to various time periods in the history of African Americans and reflects not only varying musical styles and typographies, but also struggles in the African American community.

Studies in theology and music
Hinton’s studies have been published in a number of outlets, including her book “The Commercial Church: Black Churches and the New Religious Marketplace in America,” wherein the scholar’s research notes departures from the sound Christian theology that historically, in the areas of preaching, prayer and praxis, shaped a communal identity of African Americans in black churches.

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Source: Chronicle Newspapers