Charles Albert Tindley is one of the earliest and most influential writers of gospel music. His two most popular songs are "I'll Overcome Someday" (which is popularly know as "We Shall Overcome", the anthem for the civil rights movement) and "Stand By Me." "Stand By Me" became a national hit when Ben E. King and the Drifters sang their version during the 1960's.
Charles Tindley was born in Berlin, Md. As a child, he never received any formal schooling. In fact, he taught himself to read and write. He married Daisy Henry around the age of seventeen then moved to Philadelphia to make a better life for both of them. In Philadelphia, Tindley worked as a hod carrier and a sexton in John Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church. He wanted to become a minister but lacked a formal education. How could he earn enough money to take care of his family and get an education? Tindley took correspondence classes so that he could keep his job and support his family. The classes he took enabled him to pass his examination to become a minister. Afterwards, he pastored congregations in New Jersey and Delaware. In Wilmington, Delaware, Tindley was appointed elder of the Wilmington District. Then a wonderful thing happened! Tindley was asked to become the minister of the church he had been a sexton when he first moved to Philadelphia! He accepted becoming the new minister of Bainbridge St. Methodist Church, as the church was now called. Starting with 200 members, Tindley used his intellectual ability, eloquence, and spiritual singing to amass a congregation of over ten-thousand members. During this time he worked for civil rights, took care of Philadephia's poor and disadvantaged and wrote over forty-five hymns.
Some of Tindley's well known songs are "We'll Understand It Better, By and By," "Leave it There," "Lord, I've Tried," "What Are They Doing In Heaven?," "I'm Going to Die With the Staff In My hand," "Let Jesus Fix It For You," "I Know the Lord Will Make a Way, Oh Yes He Will," and "Some Day" (better known as "Beams of Heaven As I Go.") His hymns are now standard gospel songs in churches across the United States.
Although Charles Albert Tindley's name is not well know, his contribution to music cannot be ignored.
The embedded sound below is Mr. Danny Simpson's rendition of a classic Tindley hymn.