Hallelujah! Book Birthday for BY AND BY

14 Jan

by-and-by

“My life is a sermon inside a song. I’ll sing it for you. Won’t take long.”

By and By: Charles Albert Tindley, the Father of Gospel Music is a verse biography of the composer best known for the hymn “We’ll Understand It Better By and By.” Tindley’s story, which unfolds through first-person lyrics, is remarkable not only because of his musical legacy. As a minister, he modeled service and outreach, leading a Philadelphia megachurch long before the term was coined. During the Great Migration and Great Depression, Tindley Temple’s ministries addressed needs ranging from hunger to home ownership. Tindley became known as “the Prince of Preachers.”

By and By is my first collaboration with Bryan Collier, a four-time Caldecott Honor winner. This subject hits close to home for us. Collier hails from Berlin, Md., Tindley’s hometown. I too have roots on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and have a grandfather who, like Tindley, was a Methodist minister.

The book’s rhyming text is punctuated with excerpts from spirituals and Tindley’s  hymns, Collier’s luminous watercolor collages celebrate a man whose music and conviction have inspired countless lives.

During the slavery era, Tindley was born free. His childhood was far from easy, with backbreaking hours in the fields, and no opportunity to go to school. But the spirituals he heard as he worked made him long to know how to read the Gospel for himself. Late at night, he taught himself to read from scraps of newspapers. From those small scraps, young Charles raised himself to become a founding father of American gospel music whose hymn was the basis for the Civil Rights anthem “We Shall Overcome.”

By and By is the latest in my growing collection of religious books. Others on spiritual themes include Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom; The Beatitudes: From Slavery to Civil Rights; How Sweet the Sound: The Story of Amazing Grace; and In Your Hands, a prayer inspired by Black Lives Matter.

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For interviews or review copies, contact: Carole Weatherford (cbwpoet@gmail.com)

By and By: Charles Albert Tindley, the Father of Gospel Music

By Carole Boston Weatherford; illustrated by Bryan Collier

48 pages

Release date: January 14, 2020

Publisher: Atheneum/Simon & Schuster

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