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Class Year

2004

Abstract

“Outward Melody in Religious Singing is no small Help to inward Devotion. In this our imbodyd [sic] State the Senses do very strongly impress the superior Power of the Mind; especially the Ear and Eye do variously affect the Heart.” Cotton Mather penned these words in April of 1721 as part of a sermon that he wrote endorsing Regular Singing, or singing by note rather than by ear. Mather, along with several other Puritan ministers were the driving forces behind the Regular Singing movement, which in essence was a sea change for music in religious services in New England, involving the abandonment of a tradition of lining out psalms for a congregation to sing and introducing books that contained tunes to which psalms could be easily set. Such a change was not implemented quickly or without a battle from both sides, but it ultimately changed the course of Puritan worship forever.

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