The Whoop in Black Preaching
I am by no means an expert on whooping, but I noticed that there is little information available on the web so I decided to write up a few posts ont he subject.
It is usually spelled either as “hooping” or “whooping.” Go into many African American Baptist or Pentecostal churches and you will hear it. There is even a white version called the “holy whine.” Some churches don’t think you have preached unless you have done it. Others look down on it as problematic. I have looked on the web and seen it referred to as a “carnival.” I have even heard some preaching instructors say that it is nothing more than an increase in intensity for your sermons. While there is often an increase in intensity, a “whoop” usually means more than just that.
Whooping is when the words of the preacher begins taking on a musical quality. The preaching blends into musicality. Jasper Williams believes that the “whoop” is always unique to an individual. He also suggests that all who wish to whoop should just practice it and listen to other whoopers for inspiration.
It is very difficult to describe it in words so here are two examples of whooping found on youtube. First is a Baptist example from the Rev Jasper Williams preaching the Eulogy of one of the greatest whoopers of them all C. L. Franklin:
Now here is an example from a Pentecostal pastor Bishop Norman Wagner
In my view, whooping is a part of our own African American heritage that should not be put down out of hand, neither should it be made to be the end-all of great preaching. Some of the greatest preachers do not whoop, but then again some great preachers of today and yesterday whoop. It is a part of our heritage that can be a tool for the effective preaching of the gospel.