Singing with spirit and understanding: psalmody as holistic practice in late eighteenth-century New England Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Shadle, Karen L.
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Music
  • Late eighteenth-century New England was, above all else, a society based on religion. As such, sacred song dominated the musical landscape and was performed in a wide variety of both private and public contexts. With growing political independence came a desire for some degree of cultural independence, and a school of native composers of psalmody flourished. At the same time, the eighteenth century's major religious movement, the Great Awakening, refocused religious thinking and demanded a new understanding of acts of devotion. This new theology called for an emphasis on biblical literacy, emotional outpouring, and each individual's unique relationship with God, among other things. Psalmody embodied this radical shift and offered a concrete way of practicing the ideals of the Great Awakening. The discourse of sacred song at this time addressed the ways in which it improved the whole person--soul, body, and mind. Religious leaders, composers, and tunebook compilers alike endorsed this holistic view of psalmody, believing that the act of singing was crucial for the overall health of individuals and whole communities.
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  • Vandermeer, Philip
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Open access

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