Music, Hymnody and the Culture of Methodism in Britain

Authored by: J. R. Watson

The Ashgate Research Companion to World Methodism

Print publication date:  February  2013
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9781409401384
eBook ISBN: 9781315613789
Adobe ISBN: 9781317040996


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Methodism was not born in song. It was born in youthful idealism, seriousness and a determination to be different. In 1729, when Charles Wesley and his friends founded the Holy Club in Oxford, they were rebelling against carelessness, self-indulgence and indifference. Song was a part of it, for they sang hymns together. But primarily they were ‘serious’, using the word in its eighteenth-century sense of being ‘serious in matters of religion’, but also in the wider sense of seeking a worthwhile purpose and direction in their lives. Unlike many of their contemporaries, who mocked their ‘methodical’ way of life, they were disciplined, earnest and caring, praying together, studying the Bible and visiting the prisoners in Oxford gaol. They sang hymns in their morning devotions, but such singing was a part of a complex life of worship, study and practical Christianity.

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