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Lining Out the WordDr. Watts Hymn Singing in the Music of Black Americans$
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William Dargan

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780520234482

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520234482.001.0001

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“Blest Be the Tie that Binds”

“Blest Be the Tie that Binds”

Part I: Congregational Singing as a Worship Ethos for Dr. Watts Hymns

Chapter:
(p.23) Chapter 1 “Blest Be the Tie that Binds”
Source:
Lining Out the Word
Author(s):

William T. Dargan

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520234482.003.0002

A distinctive form of congregational singing originated among enslaved Africans who were converted to Christianity before Emancipation, reaching its apogee in late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century black Baptist and Methodist churches. Known as devotions or the devotional, the cycle contains an opening song or hymn, a scripture reading, a second song or hymn, and a prayer. Led by lay office-holders of the church, congregational singing seeks to transform the separate frames of mind that individuals have brought to a service into a corporate urgency and readiness to worship. The name “Dr. Watts” connotes the oral tradition of hymn singing among black Missionary and Primitive Baptists in the United States. Hymns being songs of praise to God, Dr. Watts hymns are texts in the evangelical style originated by the Rev. Isaac Watts. They were taught to colonial slaves and poor whites in Virginia and the Carolinas during the 1740s and 1750s, in the religious fervor of the First Great Awakening.

Keywords:   Dr. Watts, hymn singing, Isaac Watts, hymns, congregational singing, slaves, Baptists, devotions, worship, songs of praise

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