Historical Markers
Tindley Temple Historical Marker
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Tindley Temple

Philadelphia and its Countryside/Lehigh Valley


Marker Location:
762 South Broad Street, Philadelphia

Behind the Marker

Head and shoulders portrait of a man in a robe
Reverend Charles Albert Tindley
While jazz and the blues gave voice to the secular lives of African Americans, the world of the spirit found its voice in gospel music, a new amalgam of traditional African-American spirituals and the urban blues. One of the great pioneers of this new musical form was Philadelphian Dr. Charles Albert Tindley, pastor of the Calvary Methodist Church on Bainbridge Street. Born a slave in Berlin, Maryland, Tindley came to Philadelphia as a young man. There he worked as a hod carrier, which is a v-shaped trough carried over the shoulder for transporting loads of bricks or mortar. He was a church sexton before joining the ministry in 1885.

Memorial stone
Reverend Charles Albert Tindley memorial, Eden Memorial Cemetery, Collingdale,...
First Page of original sheet music
First Page of original sheet music "I’ll Overcome Some Day,"...
Composing hymns for his small congregation of poor blacks and southern newcomers, Tindley merged black folk tunes, folk images, Biblical proverbs, and the music of white hymnody, creating a new music that gave voice to the spiritual hopes and concerns of black urban dwellers. He went on to publish two volumes of songs, some of which have become standards of the African-American liturgy. Drawn by both his charismatic preaching and his music, southern migrants flocked to Tindley's church. By the time of his death in 1933 he presided over the city's largest black congregation. The Tindley Temple on South Broad Street boasted over 10,000 members and a huge, four-manual organ that rivaled the great organ in Wanamaker's Department Store.

Another notable feature of the Tindley ministry was the C.A. Tindley Gospel Chorus, led by Dr. Tindley's son Albert. This Gospel Chorus won acclaim while performing songs composed by their pastor. The quartet was one of the many popular male singing groups that took shape in early twentieth-century African-American churches. The great demand for the Tindley chorus led to the formation of a second quartet that soon broke off from the church, went professional and toured the country during the 1920s and 1930s.
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