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Discussion in 'Music Ministry' started by BobinKy, Nov 22, 2010.
Does anybody attend a church that practices line singing (line-out singing)?
I don't know, because I'm not sure what "line singing" means. Is it where the leader readers a line of a hymnn, then the congregation sings it, then the leader readers the next line, the congregation sings it, and so on? If so I have never been in a church that does that. I would hazard a guess that the practice first started in the days whenfew people could read, and literacy was at an extremely low level. But I may be completely wrong about what line-singing is!
Lined singing is a musical form of worship in which a leader or moderator sings the first line of a song and then the congregation joins in on the singing. .....Today, in southern and central Appalachia, the tradition lives on in the conservative Old Regular Baptist churches. The tradition also continues on in parts of the British Isles.
Each year, at Benton, Kentucky (far western kentucky), they have what is called the Big Sing, where only shaped-note music is sung.
I remember the old Broadman Hymnal used to have shaped-note versions. And there was a wonderful lady in my church who could play anything in that hymnal or any other music as long as it was shaped-note. Give her a regular round-note piece of music and she couldn't play it.
I think the Big Sing also used line singing, but I don't know if line singing and shaped-notes go together.
Thanks for the replies.
I attend a church with musical instruments, choir, and Broadman hymnals.
However, two months ago I attended a 200-year anniversary at the Burning Spring United Baptist Church in Salyersville, Kentucky (Eastern Kentucky in the Appalachian Mountains). This church did not have any musical instruments or a choir, but they did sing songs in the line out fashion similar to these recordings.
I am a Poor Pilgrim of Sorrow (Old Regular Baptists)
Amazing Grace (Primitive Baptists)
Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone (Indian Bottom Association of Old Regular Baptists)
I am amazed at the similarity between the above Appalachian songs and the following from Scotland.
Gaelic Psalms at Back Free Church, Isle Of Lewis, Scotland
. . .
I have an uncle who used to sing Sacred Harp or shape note singing. Here are some some recordings of Sacred Harp music from YouTube.
Awake, My Soul: The Story of the Sacred Harp
Sacred Harp Singing
Four Foot-Stompin' Shape Note Tunes
Really you shouldn't be too suprised at the similarities. Applachia was settled in large part by Scots (my ancestors on one side of my family).
When I was a kid, the first church we attended here in Alabama held a singing school where I first learned to read music--shape notes of course! Later on my piano teacher taught me to read regular notes, but I gotta say, shapes notes were much easier!
The art of lining out the song came from Scotland and followed the immigrants here to the colonies. Not just Old Regular Baptists, but United Baptists, Primitive Baptists and other Old School Baptists still continue the practice of lining out the songs.
It was a way to teach the congregation how to sing certain melodies at first and then became a traditional way of singing. It is considered the oldest religious a capella singing in the US. Some of those Scottish ballad tunes are still used in some of the songs.
At the bottom of this link is my family singing lined out songs:
As for Sacred Harp, some United and Primitive Baptists in the south, in places like Alabama, still carry on this style in their worship services.
Bethel, that is pure and lovely. I'm listening to Jerusalem right now and very much enjoying it.
Thank you so much for sharing. I have a new favorite link!
The songs at the links of your family singing are beautiful. These songs and the preaching sounded very close to what I observed at Burning Springs United Baptist Church in Salyersville, KY. Much closer than the YouTube links of Old Regular and Primitive Baptist that I provided above.
Your United Baptist website is an excellent resource.
Thank you, Gina. I was able to convince my family to sing for me one time when I was up to visit them during Christmas break. I'm glad you enjoy it.
Funny thing about the similarities, the singing and preaching on my site are men that are from that area of KY! My parents are from Salyersville and I still have quite a bit of family down there.
For a variance in style, here's another style from southern Georgia:
Thanks for explaining. I tried yesterday to "Google" for an answer, but most of the hits were about "on line singing." I have just searched again, using the same search terms, and found plenty of references to line singing. Thanks again.
you're very welcome, David.
The last time I was at a service with lined out singing was at my late father-in-law's grave side service. Except for me and my pastor, the folks were all Russian Evangelical Christian-Baptists.
I have been going to The Big Singing in Benton on and off for over 20 years. They sing out of The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion compiled by William Walker in 1835 in Spartanburg, South Carolina. As far as I know they have never used lining out.
My father once played a CD for me of recordings of Old Regular Baptists from eastern Kentucky. It was put out by the Smithsonian and titled Old Regular Baptists. I found it interesting but a little strange. Several of the tune names listed on the CD were familiar to me, but the recordings bore little if any resemblance to what I was familiar with because of the slowness of the singing and the heavy ornamentation by the singers.
The relationship between lining out and shape-note singing is one of cause and effect. In the early 1700's congregational singing has deteriorated to a pretty awful state. The singing was out of hymn books that were words only, no music. Often there was only one book for the leader. If the leader could not sing very well, you can imagine how bad things could get. Because of this, there arose a call for music education to teach people how to sing, printed hymnals that included music, and a wider availability of books. For the next 80 years or so, various methods were tried as teaching tools. In 1801, William Little and William Smith published The Easy Instructor which was the first tunebook to use four-shape notation. This method was immediately recognized for its value as a teaching tool. Over the next 50+ years, there were approximately four dozen tunebooks printed using this notation. About a half dozen of these books are still in use today, including The Sacred Harp, The Southern Harmony, and The Missouri Harmony.
I have been singing shape-note music for almost 40 years. I also sing in two choirs. While I was not raised in shape-note singing, I have found it a very valuable aid for my sight reading in choral singing.
They may have "a" tune for a certain song, but not everyone uses that same tune. There are variations to every tune. Just like Amazing Grace and the tune found in the hymnal is not the same tune used by many churches that line it. It depends on the area, the church, etc. Old Regulars usually sing their songs slowly (I've heard some sing them much much slower than on that CD), a slightly different tune than to what I am accustom, and usually in unison. Some don't care for harmony, not all but some. I enjoy all different forms of it, but that's just me. :thumbs:
Is there any way to get a recording of that style? I would like to hear a sample of it sometime.
It's not all that different from what I've heard from Americans. Though, the EC-B sing in four part harmony and can and do use instruments in a service (including accordions). At Papa's service, only the song leader had a hymnal with notes. The mourners sang either from memory or from text only hymnals. There was no insturments at the cemetery, so the sing was a capella.