Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Congregational Song in the Protestant Episcopal Church in Early America: Hopkinson, Eckhard, and Loud

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Congregational Song in the Protestant Episcopal Church in Early America: Hopkinson, Eckhard, and Loud

Article excerpt

The Episcopal Church has a rich heritage of congregational song dating back to the earliest days of the church in England.1 Today's practices began in the early traditions of the Church of England and were later shaped by the church's experience in North America. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, North American Anglicans adapted the performance practice of congregational singing in England to the conditions of the colonies, and the results varied from city to city, depending in large part on the musicians in the leading parishes of each city or region. After the American Revolution, musicians in the new American Episcopal Church worked to define and standardize congregational song. Three of these musicians-Francis Hopkinson, Jacob Eckhard, and Thomas Loud-worked during a period of rapidly changing ideas about what constituted appropriate music for worship; each made a significant mark on the church's music that continues to influence what Episcopalians do today.

The 1662 Book of Common Prayer, issued after the restoration of Charles II to the throne, shaped Anglican devotional practices in the American colonies until after the American Revolution. The chief services of Morning and Evening Prayer included biblical lessons, prayers, psalms, and canticles. Rubrics dictated that the psalms and canticles could be either sung or spoken. Many church leaders, however, interpreted this to mean that only metrical psalms (poetic settings of psalm paraphrases) or canticles were permitted in worship.2 Anglican congregations on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean thus sang metrical paraphrases of psalms and canticles rather than hymns espousing Christian ideals. One of the most popular collections of psalm settings was also the newest: A New Version ofthe Psalms of David, Fitted to the Tunes Used in Churches compiled by Nicholas Brady and Nahum Tate.3 When this collection first appeared in London in 1698, King William III immediately authorized it for use in worship in the Church of England, and it was soon being bound as an appendix to the Book of Common Prayer.4 This, however, did not forbid parishes from continuing to use older approved settings for the psalms, and most parishes used more than one collection of psalms in public worship.5 The most common of these had been compiled in the sixteenth century by Thomas Sternhold and John Hopkins. Sternhold had issued a small book of nineteen texts before his death in 1549, and Hopkins added more to it over the ensuing years. After the appearance of Tate and Brady's collection, Anglicans began referring to the Sternhold-Hopkins's collection as the Old Version. A comparison of Psalm 121 in both the Old Version and the New Version reveals subtle but key differences in the poetry. First, the Old Version:

Tate and Brady's New Version of this psalm reads:

Both of these seem far removed from "I to the hills will lift my eyes," a metrical setting of this psalm included in The Hymnal 1982 as hymn number 668:

I to the hills will lift mine eyes;

From whence shall come my aid?

My help is from the Lord above

Who heaven and earth hath made.

He will not let thy foot be moved,

His own he safely keeps;

With watchful and untiring eye

He slumbers not, nor sleeps.

Thy faithful guardian is the Lord,

Thy shelter and thy shade;

Nor sun by day, nor moon by night,

Need make thy soul afraid.

From evil he shall keep thee safe

And shall thy strength restore

And guard thy going out and in,

Both now and evermore.

Approved collections of texts such as the Old Version and the Neiv Version were bound with the Book of Common Prayer. Church rubrics dictated which psalms were to be used on every day of the year, and parish leaders decided whether those psalms were to be spoken or sung and selected tunes for each text, matching the meter of the poem with that of the tune. …

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