Dorsey's Argumentative Essay

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All through the 1920’s, Thomas Dorsey was rejected by church fathers all over (Reich 9). They associated Dorsey’s style of music with the nightlife, drinking, gambling, underworld, and sex (Johnson 16). Churches at this time were trying to repress this behavior, especially churches like the Black Methodist and Black Baptist churches (Lee 22). People such as Joseph R. Washington, an African American writer, believed that this form of gospel music was the religious expression of the “lower class masses” (Johnson 809). And Edward Boatner, a musical composer, also showed his negative view on gospel when he said,
I felt it was degrading. How can something that’s jazzy give a religious feeling? If you’re in a club downtown, a nightclub, that’s all
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Dorsey had just lost his wife during childbirth and soon after, their baby boy also lost his life.
I swing between grief and joy, yet that night, the baby died. I buried Nettie and our little boy together in the same casket. I felt that God had done me injustice. I didn’t want to serve him anymore or write gospel songs. I just wanted to go back to the jazz world I once knew so well. (qtd. in Lee 163)
This is what Dorsey felt while creating “Precious Lord, Take My Hand.” Locking himself in a room he began to play an old familiar tune, “Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone?” (Johnson 814). While playing this hymn “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” was born. The lyrics were composed by Dorsey, but the melody was taken from the hymn. “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” is what many refer to as a textbook gospel song because it was transformed from something that was known by the church and rearranged to show the raw emotions that humans felt in their everyday life. The original lyrics of the hymn “Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone?”, were very empowering and helped fuel the creation of “Precious Lord, Take My Hand.” Must Jesus bear the cross
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