Hymnody and identity: congregational singing as a construct of Christian community identity

Roberts, Mikie (2014). Hymnody and identity: congregational singing as a construct of Christian community identity. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.


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In many churches, congregational singing is a central component of corporate worship. The sung hymns encapsulate the congregation’s theological beliefs, reflect their historical heritage and underscore the musical biases of the congregation. This writer contends that because hymns are so essential to congregations, there is a correlation between a congregation’s hymnody and its identity, which is typically measured by factors such as its rituals, history, leadership and location. However, one variable that deserves greater attention is that of the role of congregational hymnody. Consequently, the aim of this study is to explore how congregational hymnody is a source of congregational identity.
To achieve this, this writer applied a case study methodology to multiple sites. The first is historical and examines the 18th Century Fetter Lane Moravian congregation. The second is an ethnographic study of the St. Thomas Assemblies of God Pentecostal congregation. The third is a textual analysis of the sole Caribbean ecumenical hymnal ever published. Through this study, I advance the notion that as congregations sing hymns they are engaging in a unique activity (\(hymnic\) \(performativity\)) in which as they make music through hymn singing, the music is also at work shaping and forming the congregations’ communal identity.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion, Department of Theology and Religion
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
M Music and Books on Music > M Music
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/5257


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