Biopower in the Blood: Hymnody, Governmentality, and Anti-Blackness


Would you be whiter, much whiter than snow? There’s power in the blood, power in the blood; Sin stains are lost in its life giving flow. There’s wonderful power in the blood.
-There is Power in the Blood, Lewis E. Jones (1899)

Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
-Nothing But the Blood of Jesus, Robert Lowry (1876)

The pleas to be made white as snow by being plunged in Christ’s blood have always been odd to me. As a young girl raised in a black Southern Baptist church, this inquisitiveness was mostly over the odd logic: “How would being washed in blood make you white?” It seemed like a particularly messy, but foundational, articulation of how redemption occurred and the work it performed. The plunging, washing, and cleansing of the believer in the shed…

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