A few nights ago I stumbled upon this.
These cats were named The Jubalaires. They were a gospel group active during the '40s and '50s. You can look up some their information here.
Who knows the first instance of someone performing in a way we recognize as rapping. It was probably way before we had the ability to record it. However, I'm still fascinated by the similarity between what these cats were doing and the way hip hop is performed today. Concepts of syncopation, meter, addition and subtraction of syllables are all very much on display in this video. In fact, other than the subject matter, this sense of hip hop performance communicates an almost identical feel to early hip hop artists like Sugarhill Gang, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, and Kurtis Blow.
All we need now is Kanye to sample it. I mean, he did do "Jesus Walks."