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Robert Darden

2011 Wacoan of the Year


“What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring him a lamb.
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part.
Yet what I can I give Him? Give my heart.”

Christina Rossetti, “In the Bleak Midwinter”

Those words are found in Robert Darden’s favorite Christmas hymn. Like the speaker in the song, he gives all he has to everything he does. He gives his heart.

Many long-time readers of the Wacoan know Darden’s name from these pages. He’s been a contributing writer for the magazine since 2001. Some people might accuse us of favoritism by choosing one of our own. We are only guilty of good taste.

We wanted Darden to write for us because he’s so darn good. If his words only graced these pages, then maybe the criticism would be valid, but he has dozens of books and hundreds of articles to his credit. We are lucky to count him among our contributors, but if he had never written a word for us, he would still be our choice for Wacoan of the Year.

Actually, we’ve been thinking about choosing him for a while. We could have chosen him when his book on the history of black gospel music, “People Get Ready,” was published. We could have chosen him when he launched the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project (BGMRP), shortly afterward. We could wait until his next scholarly endeavor is finished, a two-volume work about the influence of black sacred music on the civil rights movement. But why wait? Let’s honor Darden now…

By Megan Willome
Find the full article on page 114 of the December 2011 Wacoan magazine