Sing a New Song: Liberating Black Hymnody

Sing a New Song: Liberating Black Hymnody

Sing a New Song: Liberating Black Hymnody

Sing a New Song: Liberating Black Hymnody

Synopsis

Jon Michael Spencer's bold book steps into the intersection of African American life and Christian traditions. He tracks ways in which distoritons within the biblical and theological traditions-notably their biases and myths about gender, race, and class-have infected even black Christianity. His learned and eloquent plea for a more critical Christianity has important implications for all churches.

Excerpt

Yes. No… . Two of the tiniest words in any language.
But yes or no, one had to choose between them. To say
“Yes” or “No” to unfairness, to injustice, to wrong-doing,
to oppression, to treacherous betrayal, to the culture of
fear, to the aesthetic of submissive acquiescence, one was
choosing a particular world and a particular future.

—Ngũgĩ Wa Thiong'O, Detained: A Writer's Prison
Diary(1981)

The theme of the 1992 annual conference of the Hymn Society of the United States and Canada was “You Are Ethnic,” and that was supposed to be the title of my keynote address for that conference. However, I could not, in honesty, say to everyone in the audience, “You are ethnic.” I could only attempt to persuade the participants that as authentic Christian hymnologists, who should have a salvational goal in mind when practicing their discipline, they ought to say yes to being ethnic. Some in the audience did not need convincing, but in order to convince the rest of the listeners that they ought to be ethnic, I needed to coin the term ethnohymnology and . . .

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