James Milton Black (1856-1938) is widely known as the author of the words and music to the popular gospel song When the Roll is Called Up Yonder. He was, however, a very private person whose failure to leave much documentation about his work has frustrated musicologists for decades. No photograph of him suitable for large-size reproduction in gospel song histories, for example, is known to exist. Every year the United Methodist Archives at Lycoming College expects to get at least one inquiry that begins, “I just discovered that James M. Black was a Methodist layperson from Williamsport, could you please tell me…”
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