The Tabernacle Choir Blog

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir Brings Back That "Old Time Religion"

“Old Time Religion” was first published in 1873, when a tour book about the Fisk Jubilee Singers was written to recount their northern states tour. In 1889, Charlie D. Tillman, who was the son of a Baptist minister, was helping his father with a tent meeting in Lexington, South Carolina. It was there that he first heard an African American group singing “Old Time Religion.”

The moment he heard it he quickly wrote down the words and structure of the song. He published the song in his collection titled, The Revival, in 1891, making the black spiritual genre widely available to large audiences, particularly in the south.

In 1941, “Old Time Religion” made the leap to the mainstream when it was used in the Academy Award winning movie Sergeant York. Audiences beyond the south were now able to enjoy the song that has since been recorded by Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Alabama, Woody Guthrie and more.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir have also added its 360 voices to the list of artists who have recorded “Old Time Religion”—The song is included on the Choir’s album, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing: American Folk Hymns & Spirituals. Hear the Choir sing the catchy song in the video below.