Chase Castle


Fourth Year Graduate Student in Musicology

103 Lerner Center

Chase Castle is interested in American revivalism across the nineteenth century, focusing especially on the politics of race in American evangelical hymnody. His dissertation project examines the transformation of evangelical hymnody into a new sacred genre at the end of the nineteenth century called the gospel hymn. He argues that evangelical hymnwriters began to incorporate African American musical styles (real and parodied) into Protestant sacred genres that dated to the eighteenth century. This convergence changed the form and function of evangelical hymns. By comparing hymns, minstrel songs, spirituals, and parlor songs he shows that nineteenth-century evangelical music did not fit neatly into categories such as sacred and secular, Black and white, public and private. Instead, these categories intermingled in hymnbooks, reflecting the lived experience of the people who wrote and performed evangelical hymns.


Castle boasts a large private collection of American tunebooks, hymnals, sheet music, and manuscripts largely associated with the gospel hymnist Fanny Crosby. In 2019 he received a Bachelor of Music degree in Music History and Literature and Keyboard Performance from the Baldwin Wallace University Conservatory of Music in Berea, Ohio. During his time at BW, Castle worked in the Riemenschneider Bach Institute and curated several exhibitions showcasing the institute’s collections. In 2021 he served as recording artist for an exhibit at the Athenaeum of Philadelphia titled “Inspired Sound: Philadelphia’s Pipe Organ Heritage.” He is also an active organist and choral director who spends most Sunday mornings at St. Mary’s Church, Hamilton Village on the western edge of the University of Pennsylvania’s campus.