Church Music in America 1620-2000

By Owen, Barbara | The American Organist, October 2007 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Church Music in America 1620-2000


Owen, Barbara, The American Organist


CHURCH MUSIC IN AMERICA 1620-2000, John Ogasapian. Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 2007. 284 pp. ISBN-10 0-88146-026-1. $40.95. Two admirable books on American church music were published over 40 years ago: Leonard Ellinwood's The History of American Church Music (1953) and Robert Stevenson's Protestant Church Music in America (1966). Even earlier was Archibald Davison's book of the same title, published in 1933 and already out of date by the time the other two appeared; his later publication, Church Music: Illusion and Reality (1952), based on some earlier lectures, updates it only slightly. Many other books (and numerous articles) have dealt with specific aspects of American church music, of course, from singing schools and anthems to individual composers, organists, regions, denominations, choral groups, and churches. But until now, Ellinwood and Stevenson have occupied the bookshelf virtually alone as worthwhile overviews of the topic. Considering how much scholarly water has flowed over the dam since they were written, however, we have been overdue for a broader and more up-to-date resource book on the subject, and the late John Ogasapian-who, sadly, did not live to see its publication-has provided it. Well researched and eminently readable, it is a worthy legacy for his fellow scholars and church musicians.

It is interesting to compare this newest study with the two earlier ones. All three are, predictably, roughly chronological in organization, and deal in their turn with such predictable-indeed, unavoidable-topics as early psalmody, singing schools, and revival music. Where Ogasapian's book differs (besides its millenium-era outlook) is in the breadth and depth with which he treats these and other topics, and the meaty succinctness with which he does it. Stevenson and Davison deal exclusively, as their titles clearly imply, with Protestant music. Ellinwood does include some basic information about Catholic music, but says not a word about Reform Jewish music, and, from the 19th century onward, his major emphasis leans toward the Episcopal church. On the other hand, Stevenson's emphasis is more on native-born composers and folk idioms; he devotes a whole chapter to spirituals, as opposed to two brief references in Ellinwood. Neither goes very deeply into the 20th century, only a little more than half over when they wrote-Ellinwood mostly on urban Protestant churches and their musicians, Stevenson hardly at all.

While Stevenson begins his chapters with converted Native Americans and Ellinwood with New Spain, Ogasapian opens with a Prologue dealing broadly with the European background-Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, Calvinist, and Huguenot-before actually setting foot on North American soil with the first chapter on psalmody in English colonies, from Jamestown and Plymouth to the early 18th century. Citations from contemporary sources and a discussion of the psalm books in use, along with the attitudes and practices of the period, set this discussion apart from many others on the same topic, and link the whole story to its religious and political background. Chapter Two continues logically to the growth of choirs and anthems (and opinions pro and con) as the 18th century melded into the early 19th, citing the influence of revivals such as the "Great Awakening" and the leaven of Methodism and the Dutch Reformed church. The tunesmiths and singing-school leaders also get their due-not just Billings but equally influential people such as Law, Read, Holyoke, Holden, and others, with perceptive quotes from some of their writings.

Lutherans, Moravians, Dunkers, and Dutch Calvinists get coverage in Chapter Three, which discusses some of their prominent musicians and also sums up the effects of the increasing introduction of organs by some of these immigrant bodies. Chapter Four brings us to a topic emphasized by Ellinwood, that of urban church music. Beginning at the opening of the 19th century, when organs and choirs were proliferating in urban churches, Ogasapian gives some succinct overviews of activities in Boston, Philadelphia, and New York.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Church Music in America 1620-2000
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?