A Chicago Watchmeeting Service: Seventy Years Ago

Seventy years ago today, December 31, 1939, Pilgrim Baptist Church of Chicago, under the leadership of Rev. J.C. Austin, hosted a Watchmeeting Service that brought together a “constellation of stars,” the old and the new in religious music:

The three-hour service (9 p.m. to 12 midnight) featured…

The Wings over Jordan Choir (below), directed by Worth Kramer

The Pilgrim Baptist Church Senior Choir, directed by George Gullatt

Senior Choir Guest Directors:
Prof. Edward H. Boatner (spirituals)
Prof. James Mundy (Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus”)

The Pilgrim Baptist Church Gospel Chorus, directed by Prof. Thomas A. Dorsey (below, left)

Soloists: Sallie Martin (below, left) and Roberta Martin (below, right)

Message: Rev. Junius C. Austin: “A Forward Look”
Conclusion at 12 midnight: “Blasting Guns and Shrieking Whistles Announce the Birth of a New Year.” Happy New Year, 1940!

Happy New Year, 2010…from The Black Gospel Blog!

(information source: Chicago Defender, 30 Dec 1939; from research collected in preparation for my forthcoming book on the history of gospel music in Chicago.)

About Bob Marovich

Bob Marovich is a gospel music historian, author, and radio host. Founder of Journal of Gospel Music blog (formally The Black Gospel Blog) and producer of the Gospel Memories Radio Show.


  1. That sounds like a fantastic watch night service. If only I had a time machine! lol!

  2. This is an amazing site. I just discovered you. God bless.

    LaZeric Fridell Freeman
    aka TruSoulDJ


  3. Sallie Martin está usando um terço no pescoço?

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