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Lining Out the WordDr. Watts Hymn Singing in the Music of Black Americans$
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William Dargan

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780520234482

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520234482.001.0001

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“I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say”

“I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say”

The Singing Life of the Reverend Doctor C.J. Johnson (1913–1990)

Chapter:
(p.169) Chapter 7 “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say”
Source:
Lining Out the Word
Author(s):

William T. Dargan

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520234482.003.0008

The autobiographical narrative of the preacher and songwriter C. J. Johnson may provide an integrated personal perspective and social framework for observing the complementary roles of hymns and songs in a narrative context that interweaves singing and worship with other life experiences. Rev. Johnson's life also serves as a paradigm of the black middle class that began to develop in the second generation after slavery, a time of great social and economic upheaval for African Americans, and as a metaphor for the resiliency of the old hymn-singing traditions in changing times. Zora Neale Hurston and other black commentators were drawn to black preaching and the songs called spirituals as noteworthy American expressions of an African heritage, but the fullest descriptions of black lining-out hymns were being written by white observers such as George Pullen Jackson. This chapter presents narrative excerpts from the singing life of the Rev. Johnson.

Keywords:   C. J. Johnson, hymns, songs, singing, worship, middle class, slavery, African Americans, Zora Neale Hurston, spirituals

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