Frey, Marvin V
b Sherwood, Oregon, USA 1918, d N Tarrytown, New York, USA 1992. He was an ordained American evangelist and songwriter who wrote over 2000 ‘songs of faith’. One short but notable and Scriptural chorus has outlasted the rest, detached from its original stanzas and travelling the world from Portland, Oregon in 1952. Edward Darling and Donald Davidson (Companion to Church Hymnal, 2005, p157) point out that the claim to authorship ‘cannot be substantiated’. With similar uncertainty, Frey has been credited with the authorship or adaptation of ‘Kum Ba Yah’ (Kumbaya) in his 1939 Portland collection The Revival Choruses of Marvin Frey. The folk-singer Pete Seeger says that it was adapted (even ‘tamed’) in 1936–37, possibly from an African-American original, then taken to Angola by missionaries, returning with an African flavour to become an instantly recognised camp song, recorded by some star names but evoking widely varying responses. What part Frey had in any of this may never be known. No.487.