CHRISTMAS IN EARLY AMERICA Eighteenth century church musk in New England The American ‘primitive’ tradition of church music in the late eighteenth century blossomed from the transplanted customs of contemporary English gallery music. As unison congregational singing gained in popularity in the rural churches of seventeenth and eighteenth century Britain and its American colonies, hands of gallery musicians, both singers and instrumentalists, were eventually formed in the mid 1800’s to lead and embellish community performance of psalms, hymns and anthems. This development toward a unique choral tradition in the country churches was spurred by the publication of many new collections of 3 and 4 part harmonizations of the psalnss and other spiritual songs, signaled by the release in 1696 id the New Version of the Psalms by Nahum Tate and Nicholas Brady. The introduction of harmony, hence choral singing, in the parish churches of England was underway at the beginning of the eighteenth century, with supporting instruments appearing in the 1740’s or 1750’s. America’s sterner brands of Calvinism withstood the temptations of harmony into the 1720’s, causing much controversy among the various denominations.Download booklet
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