Evangelical hymnody was the most significant form of popular sacred song in eighteenth-century Anglo-America. John and Charles Wesley built their Methodist movement on it, but little is known about the music of their great collaborator and eventual rival, George Whitefield (1714-1770). The essential sources of Whitefield's music are the development of ritual song at his Moorfields Tabernacle in London, his Collection of Hymns for Social Worship (1753) prepared for that congregation, and a little-known tunebook called The Divine Musical Miscellany (1754) that contains the first and definitive repertory of music known to be sung at Moorfields. This essay recovers Whitefield's music by presenting an account of Moorfields and Hymns for Social Worship, a detailed analysis of the Miscellany's tunes and texts, and a narrative of their reception history during Whitefield's lifetime and the subsequent half-century. It argues that Whitefieldian tunes had significant and permanent influence on all branches of Evangelical hymnody, but that for reasons of literary competition, theological conflict, and institutional development, Whitefield's lyrics were almost entirely replaced, quickly among the Methodists by Charles Wesley's verse and more slowly among Dissenters and Evangelical Calvinists by Isaac Watts's hymns and psalm imitations.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Marini, Stephen A.
"Whitefield's Music: Moorfields Tabernacle, The Divine Musical Miscellany (1754), and the Fashioning of Early Evangelical Sacred Song,"
Yale Journal of Music & Religion:
1, Article 5.
American Popular Culture Commons, Christian Denominations and Sects Commons, Cultural History Commons, European History Commons, History of Christianity Commons, Intellectual History Commons, Literature in English, British Isles Commons, Literature in English, North America Commons, Liturgy and Worship Commons, Musicology Commons, Music Pedagogy Commons, Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion Commons