Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Musicality of Black Preaching: Performing the Word

Chapter 11, William C. Turner, Jr. “The Musicality of Black Preaching: Performing the Word” pp. 191-209

Turner surveys six elements of musicality which, he says, lend power to African American preaching. First, black preaching is by and large musical and performance-based, drawing a congregation into the performance. Second, musicality including rhythm and pitch are normally used in preaching, while in the white church this is rare. In African American preaching musicality serves deliberately to emphasize aspects of the preaching, to serve as not only punctuation but also a structural element. Turner views this musicality as rooted in native African practices which were brought into Christian expression as slaves converted. This preaching is seen as a means of God giving his power to people. It is aligned with foundational patterns of life. While Turner does make an attempt at distinctions between emotionality and emotionalism, he also seems eager to endorse a style of preaching which draws very heavily on emotion and community feeling. The sad fact, which Turner occasionally admits, is that sometimes the truth of Scripture can be obscured. Yet the high emotions are not a guarantee of departure from truth. We are well advised to treat various delivery styles as patterns from which all can benefit.

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