The old way of singing

I am so glad I stumbled across this video.

I teared up at several points while watching it. For five years we had the privilege of gathering with an Old Regular Baptist congregation in south central Kentucky, and the singing … oh, the singing. No other element of corporate worship has ever transported me–not prayer, not conventional hymn singing, not sermons, not the Lord’s table–but the old way of singing did, which is why I never gainsay anyone who claims to be transported by those other things. Envy them, perhaps, but never assume they are leading me on.

Chris and I were first exposed to this kind of singing by Ginny Hawker. Here is Ginny singing one of the old songs.

As you’ll discover if you watch the first video, the history of this form of singing is mostly lost to us. One thing we know is that it was deliberately wiped out in churches by people who thought it was ignorant, undignified, and unmusical, wanting to substitute a form of composed European art-singing with four-part harmonies. Even shape-note singing, which superficially looks like a folk form, was something invented and promoted by commercial enterprises.

I can’t think about this too long without getting angry. But I’m grateful for the small taste we were allowed.


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