'Meet and Right it is to Sing': nineteenth-century hymnals and the reasons for singing

Clarke, Martin (2012). 'Meet and Right it is to Sing': nineteenth-century hymnals and the reasons for singing. In: Clarke, Martin ed. Music and Theology in Nineteenth-Century Britain. Music in Ninteenth-Century Britain. Farnham: Ashgate, pp. 21–36.

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The hymn book occupied an increasingly important place in religious life in nineteenth-century Britain. Many different religious groups issued hymnals during the course of the century, ranging from small-scale local productions to official denominational publications. Often, the production of a hymnal was a key part in establishing a religious identity for a particular group. The many Methodist groups that proliferated during the nineteenth century typically issued a hymnal early in their existence, marking the important role Methodists traditionally attached to hymn singing, while also affirming its particular content as being in accordance with their own beliefs and practices. Denominations such as the General Baptists and Particular Baptists, each with distinct theological traditions, issued their own collections, underlining important links between hymnody and theology. While there was no official hymnal for the Church of England, hymnody did come to occupy a firmer place within the Established Church, as its inclusion in worship was now clearly at the discretion of the incumbent minister. As a result, many hymnals were complied [sic] and issued by various Anglican clergy and musicians, in what Bryan D. Spinks refers to as 'a new industry of published hymnals'. These were often intended to appeal to groups with particular theological, liturgical or musical preferences.

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