Tuned Up in the Spirit
December 8, 2017 10:41 AM   Subscribe

Tuned Up in the Spirit: Lined out hymnody with the Old Regular Baptists "the oldest English-language religious-music oral tradition in North America, a tradition with roots stretching back to parish churches in England in the early 1600s and perhaps further still. Some people find it a strange sound. One researcher who went hunting for descriptions of lined-out singing from turn-of-the-century travelers in Appalachia told me that a few words kept popping up: mournful, wailing, confusion."
posted by OmieWise (9 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
This is cool. It's like the harmonies of Sacred Harp, but without the cadence.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:58 AM on December 8, 2017

This is fascinating. I can hear the pitch-seeking in the congregations, exactly like I'd expect, and the stepwise changes and slurs remind me strongly of plainchant.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:02 AM on December 8, 2017

Am I just missing them, or are there no links in the article to examples we can listen to? Should I just go with whatever turns up on a YouTube search for "Lined-out Hymnody"?
posted by straight at 11:20 AM on December 8, 2017 [4 favorites]

I did a youtube search for "Regular Old Baptist" and it filled in the rest.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:34 AM on December 8, 2017

The very first thing this reminded me of was Ralph Stanley's performance of the Appalachian folk song "O Death" in Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?

And indeed, according to Wikipedia, Stanley based his performance on the vocal traditions of Appalachian Baptist churches, although that article mentions the Primitive Baptist Universalists, a different denomination.
posted by a mirror and an encyclopedia at 12:43 PM on December 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

Sounds a lot like Gaelic psalmody to me.
posted by scruss at 6:10 PM on December 8, 2017

Fascinating, empathetic account. It's much more than a description of the music. Thanks.
posted by unknowncommand at 10:02 AM on December 9, 2017

Just trying to imagine that as a soundtrack to an English Civil War costume drama. Would I believe it?
posted by stanf at 1:04 PM on December 9, 2017

Anna Roberts-Gevalt and Elizabeth LaPrelle of Anna & Elizabeth are young advocates/popularizers of Old Regular Baptist music. I heard them do some of these tunes at a folk festival this summer, and their renditions of "I am a poor pilgrim of sorrow" and "Here in the Vineyard" are especially good. A small part of their repertoire, but a lovely one. Thanks for sharing this, it's great to know more about the lined-out hymnody tradition!
posted by All hands bury the dead at 1:58 PM on December 9, 2017

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