Singing the Lord's Song in a Strange Land: Hymnody in the History of North American Protestantism

Article excerpt

Singing the Lord's Song in a Strange Land: Hymnody in the History of North American Protestantism edited by Edith L. Blumhofer and Mark A. Noll with an introduction by Stephen Marini, Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press, 2004. 264 pp. ISBN: 0-8173-1396-6. U.S. $52.50.

The congregational song of the church is intricately intertwined with the broader history of the church and with society at large. Nowhere is this relationship more apparent than in the history of Protestantism where music has often reflected its culture. Rather than weaving together a coherent tapestry, these essays could be viewed as lines on different planes intersecting around the theme of hymnody's role in Protestant America. The essays explore a wide array of topics from the role of hymns in the assimilation process of immigrants to the influence of hymns in a popular style in the spreading of the gospel through radio. The book is distinguished by the following: (1) the study of hymns in particular denominations and movements with attention to the ability of such hymns to reveal shifts in American religious life; (2) considerations of hymns and acculturation in particular religious groups, and (3) a focus on the roles hymns played in changing attitudes about race, class, gender, business, politics and society.

This monograph comes out of the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals at Wheaton College and is funded by a Lilly Grant. This Institute has compiled a data base which indexes more than 200 evangelical hymnals published in the United States, beginning with John Wesley's 1737 Collection of Hymns and concluding with the Assemblies of God's 1969 Hymns of Glorious Praise. Some of the essays in this volume have utilized this data base as a primary resource. In gratitude for her extensive hymnological research at Oberlin College, the book is dedicated to Mary Louise VanDyke, F. …