Thomas A. Dorsey's influence on African-American worship

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Thomas A. Dorsey's influence on African-American worship

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Title: Thomas A. Dorsey's influence on African-American worship
Author: Lee, George Perry
Advisor: Walker, T. Vaughn
Abstract: This dissertation focuses upon the background of African-American worship during the 1930s which served as the Sitz im Leben for Dorsey. This dissertation examines how Charles Albert Tindley's gospel hymn singing tradition influenced Dorsey to create and perpetuate gospel music as a theologically viable form of expression within the African-American worship experience. An analysis of the state of the African-American church and Dorsey's personal life is presented to demonstrate the origin and the use of religious folk imagery that was needed to communicate the triumphs and trials of the Christian experience of African-Americans.

Chapters 1 and 2 provide an in-depth historical analysis of African-American worship. Cultural retentions, nuances, and influences of western Christian practices are discussed. The phenomenon of the black sacred cosmos is presented as the foundational understanding of the African-American religious experience.

Chapter 3 emphasizes the Black Church as the cultural womb of the African-American community. As the only viable source of African-American validity within an oppressive American culture, discontented African-American Christian responses are presented and analyzed.

Chapter 4 delves into the major precursors of Thomas Dorsey. Charles A. Tindley was an African-American minister, composer, and scholar. Tindley, who served as pastor of Tindley Temple United Methodist Church in Philadelphia, was a renowned composer of hymns that are sung by Christians worldwide.

Chapter 5 examines the religious worldview of African-Americans as they traveled north during the great migration. Special attention is given to the ritualistic practices that were retained in African-American worship as the spiritual ethos moved northward.

Chapter 6 continues with the life of Thomas A. Dorsey and his relationship with the African-American church. An analysis is given of his influential relationship with Rev. J. C. Austin and the Pilgrim Baptist Church of Chicago, Illinois, which is considered the birth home of Dorsey's gospel music and choirs. This chapter will conclude with Dorsey's creation of a national convention to promulgate his gospel creations, soloists, and choirs.

Description: This item is only available to students and faculty of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. If you are not associated with SBTS, this dissertation may be purchased from or downloaded through ProQuest's Dissertation and Theses database if your institution subscribes to that service.
Date: 2008-10-08

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