One of the things I like is collecting photographs that have some element of historical or artistic interest for me personally. From time to time, I’ll post some of these photos here.
“Singing a Hymn of Worship”
by Alfred Eisenstaedt, 1937
This photo, dated January 1, 1937, was taken in Mississippi at the height of the Great Depression, by famed LIFE magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt. According to the caption, it shows a “girl ecstatically singing a hymn of worship in Baptist church during Sunday service.”
I haven’t been able to find out any more about this young lady. I wish I could. The image she presents of worship that was focused and intense, but totally untheatrical, is very appealing. I wonder what her life was like when she wasn’t dressed in her Sunday best singing praises to the Lord.
By the way, January 1 of 1937 actually fell on a Friday. If the caption is correct that the occasion was a Sunday service, Jan 1 is perhaps the day Eisenstaedt logged his photo or wrote its caption. The photo then would have been taken earlier, probably the previous Sunday. If that is the case, it actually should bear the date December, 1936.
Below is another Eisenstaedt photo taken in 1937, of a Sunday School somewhere in the South. It’s natural to wonder if this is the same church as the one above. I don’t think so. For me, at least, the two photos depict very different environments, this one rural and the young lady’s more urban.
On the other hand, I can envision our young worshiper as a member of the church shown in the background of this 1937 Eisenstaedt photo. This is all, of course, entirely subjective.
It’s unlikely that our curiosity about the lives of the individuals in these photographs will ever be satisfied. We don’t even know any of their names. But what Alfred Eisenstaedt has preserved for us in these evocative scenes of a time long past, is a reminder of how faith in Christ brought a people through some of the worst times in the nation’s history. And that should be an encouragement to us today. The times may have changed, but God hasn’t.