Gospel Revelations: Then and Now

Patrick Piper and a Richmond resident singing “Bless the Lord, O My Soul” after class on September 11

Bless the Lord

Oh my soul

And all that is within me

Bless his holy name

Every Monday at 7 p.m., the gospel echoes throughout the Center for the Visual and Performing Arts. It starts with this significant song, “Bless the Lord, O My Soul” written by Andre Crouch. The Gospel Revelations ensemble at Earlham College was first created in 1972 by Cynthia Green to create a community for African-American students on campus. 

Patrick Piper, current director of Gospel Revelations since 1995, only had 25 students when he began directing the choir. By 1999, the number of students tripled to 150, and even included the football team he coached then. Student-athletes often joined the group; there was even year when most of the cross country team was part of the singing. 

During spring break, the group toured New York, Pennsylvania, Baltimore, Chicago, Saint Louis, Indianapolis, and other cities, taking gospel where they went. It quickly became a group where students could gather, sing, and rest together. Patrick explained that the group came together “by word of mouth. Students tried convincing others to come.” 

Currently, the group consists of more than 19 Richmond residents including children and high school students, and more than 13 Earlham students hailing from Haiti, Swaziland, Honduras, India, Japan, and other places worldwide.

Gospel Revelations has significantly narrowed the gap between the Richmond community and Earlham College. “It’s the community choir, bringing people together,” says Katrina Bently, a Richmond resident who has come to every Gospel Revelations for over 30 years. She also remarked that she has seen diversity changes in group members regarding race and ethnicity. “Black, white, whatever. They just come together and give God praise. That’s what I love about it.” It also strengthens Katrina’s connection to her family. “We get together as a family function. We praise together, stay together, and sing together.”

Patrick would love to see more members in the Gospel Revelations, including on and off campus. “It matters to me that people want to sing,” Patrick says, “the light and joy of doing it keeps people coming back.” Regardless of race, religious beliefs, and cultural background, Gospel Revelations has been a place for people to gather and connect. The community will evolve and pass on its culture to future generations. If you are curious about what the gospel is, come to the Center for the Visual and Performing Arts, on Monday at 7 p.m. The choir would love to see you there.

Gospel Revelations singing “Sing Till the Power of the Lord Come Down” in Spring concert, 2023

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *