In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, African American sacred music was published for black congregational use and staged performance. Denominations like the African Methodist Episcopal Church (founded 1816), the National Baptist Convention (founded 1880), and the Church of God in Christ (founded 1897) had their own publishing concerns that issued collections of music. Individual black poets and composers were also active during this period, including composer-arranger Francis. A. Clark (1886–1948), gospel composer Thoro Harris (1874–1955), and poet Amanda Smith (1837–1915). Minstrel songbooks from the mid-1870s onward often included spirituals (many apocryphal or “improved”) alongside coon songs, paving the way for performance practices that crossed both color lines and the sacred/secular divide. Black entertainer Sam Lucas (?–1916), for example, often featured spirituals in his comedic acts. In the post–Civil War era, white and black song collectors edited and published African American sacred music. Historically black colleges and universities, like Fisk University founded 1865 in Nashville, Tennessee, and Hampton University founded 1868 in Hampton, Virginia, hosted jubilee choirs that performed internationally and published popular collections of spiritual arrangements.
Late nineteenth-century publishers of gospel music produced two main categories of books: hymnals featuring repertoire for devotional contexts and tunebooks including rudiments for music instruction alongside repertoire. Hymnals typically contained primarily standard selections with some newly written or assembled material. These proportions were reversed in the tunebook, which often included a written introduction to musical notation and practice exercises useful for singing school instruction. At the turn of the twentieth century, publishers began printing tunebook repertoire in serials, limiting the theoretical introduction to the first number, spacing installments at intervals of several years, and avoiding repeated repertoire. Serials of this type remained popular into the 1910s. Over time, firms like the James D. Vaughan Publishing Company gradually omitted the theoretical introductions from their catalog’s publications, eventually prioritizing the newly composed music they released in one “annual” collection per year. With the pretense of instruction dropped, gospel annuals were soon marketed to singing schools, normal schools, and conventions whose singers all eagerly anticipated new material.
Though Baptists settled in the southern colonies in the seventeenth century, they did not have a strong regional presence until the mid-eighteenth century, when congregations planted in Virginia and the Carolinas began establishing regional bodies like the Charleston Association (1751) in South Carolina, the Ketochton Association (1765) in Virginia, and the Kehukee Association (1765) in North Carolina. Baptist churches represented a broad range of beliefs and practices loosely bound by theological commitment to adult salvation after experiencing the work of grace. Deeply independent, Baptists did not organize into centralized denominational polities until the late nineteenth century after small, locally-governed congregations had already spread across the South.
Baptist tastes in sacred music and other worship practices were correspondingly diverse. In the early nineteenth century, the denomination split into missionary and antimissionary camps over the introduction of foreign mission associations and Sunday schools, fault lines with both theological and musical significance. Antimissionary Baptists ultimately rejected both along with the use of instrumental music, resisting the stylistic influence of Sunday school music in their worship. Antimissionary sentiment seeded the modern Primitive, Regular, and Two-Seed-in-the-Spirit Baptists whose relatively small denominations continue to have a presence in the South. By the turn of the twentieth century, Baptist congregations were joining national denominations in greater numbers, including the white-led Southern Baptist Convention (founded 1845), and the black-led National Baptist Convention (founded 1880). Both conventions maintained publishing outfits that provided denominational hymnals and social worship, Sunday school, and gospel collections to their respective congregations.
Driven by a highly systematized structure of lay class leaders, local preachers, and circuit-riding elders, the Methodist church spread across the South in the late eighteenth century. British founder John Wesley (1703–1791) conceived of Methodism as a devotional practice emphasizing inward and outward holiness. Wesley was enthusiastic about participatory music and Methodism condoned worship practices controversial in other denominations, such as the use of non-scriptural hymns, music of secular origin, and women’s vocal participation in public worship. The Methodist tradition of hymn composition began with Wesley’s brother Charles (1707–1788), a prolific hymn writer whose texts were enthusiastically taken up by most contemporaneous communities, including American Methodists. When they ordained their first two bishops in 1784, American Methodists officially severed from the Church of England, organizing a series of regional conferences that effectively delivered preaching and lay devotional activity to the diffuse and sparsely populated inland South.
Questions of race shaped American Methodism from inception and led to several denominational schisms along color lines. While Methodist doctrine has always included a condemnation of slavery, church practice excluded black preachers and elders from positions of power beyond the local congregation. Effectively excluded from participation in national bodies of church governance, African Americans founded several historically black denominations, including Richard Allen’s African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1816. Tensions over the official anti-slavery position of the Methodist Episcopal Church increased throughout the early nineteenth century, leading to the 1844 schism that produced the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, though the Methodist Episcopal Church retained a limited presence in the region. The two denominations continued to exist in parallel through the mid-twentieth century, maintaining their own official hymnals and publication organs.
The Church of the Nazarene formed between 1907 and 1908 as congregations and lay devotional societies across the country joined together to pursue Christian perfection. The concept of Christian perfection first appeared in second-century Christian writings and periodically resurfaced among later theologians, including Methodist founder John Wesley (1703–1791). Gaining prominence in Canada and the United States in the 1860s and 1870s, this “holiness doctrine” eventually influenced the thought and practice of established Anabaptist, Methodist, and Quaker churches. Gospel hymn lyrics, often written from the perspective of believers, were the perfect vehicle for Nazarene teachings on spiritual formation and devotion. Congregational song continues to play an important role in Nazarene worship where music is understood as both spiritual gift and opportunity for the sharing of personal testimonies. The Nazarene headquarters and publishing operations have straddled the Missouri-Kansas border since 1912.
Scottish and Scotch-Irish emigrants first brought Presbyterianism to Virginia and the Carolinas in the early eighteenth century. Like other Reformed bodies, Presbyterians are indebted to both Calvinism and ecclesial polity, the former a theology of human depravity, atonement, and grace, the latter an inherited presbytery system of governance from which the denomination derives its name. Presbyterians were active participants in the First Great Awakening, a series of protracted meetings in the 1730s–1740s that exposed an enduring rift between “Old Side” and “New Side” factions over revivals’ growing influence and popularity. “New Side” Presbyterians grew in numbers as the revivals they favored flourished, with Kentucky’s pro-revival Cumberland Presbyterian Church established in 1810. Presbyterians would revisit this issue again in a second schism dating from the 1830s–1870s.
Throughout their history, Presbyterian bodies have worshipped in the anti-formalist, non-liturgical continental Reformed tradition, preferring the use of biblical psalms and canticles and supporting a vibrant tradition of metrical psalmody long after other denominations turned to non-biblical texts. Even hymnals issued by the liberal Presbyterian Committee of Publication in Richmond, Virginia, incorporated a substantial repertoire of metrical psalmody, like the 1882 Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs. While denominational hymnals and tunebooks emerged by the 1860s, many congregations continued to sing from the 1650 Scottish Psalter, aided by the lining-out of a precentor. As recently as 2018, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church published "The Trinity Psalter Hymnal" in conjunction with the United Reformed Churches in America.
The Restorationist movement materialized in the US South in response to growing strife between fractious religious groups. Often traced to the preaching of Barton W. Stone (1772–1844) at an 1801 revival in Bourbon County, Kentucky, the movement initially cohered around an intentional decentering of denominational allegiance with Stone and others advocating for a restoration of the nonsectarian fellowship practiced in the first century Christian church. Restorationists preferred the title “Christian” over denominational affiliation. In its early years (pre-1850), the movement’s opposition to slavery nurtured religious communities with strong cross-racial participation. After joining forces with the similarly-minded Pennsylvania Christians led by Alexander Campbell (1788–1866), the Restorationists expanded their geographic reach. Campbell, who relocated to western Virginia in the 1810s, was the movement’s first and most influential hymnodist, although Restorationists also drew from Methodist and Baptist repertoire. In the 1860s, Restorationists began debating the use of instrumental music in worship, causing rifts between and within some congregations. Attitudes about musical accompaniment were the deciding factor when the movement formally split into two denominations in 1906. The non-instrumental Church of Christ would soon begin issuing official hymnals from their publication arm in Missouri and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) would publish hymnody intended to be accompanied from Texas. Even before this split, nineteenth-century Restorationists produced several collections of sacred music underwritten by charities, congregations, and individual devotees, like “The Christian Psalmist" (1851), compiled by Silas W. Leonard, A. D. Fillmore, William Gunn, and Thomas Harrison and published in Louisville, Kentucky. Now an international movement, Restorationist churches remain particularly prevalent in the South, especially along the Ohio Valley.
Records of singing schools and conventions attest to the flourishing of sacred song in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Alabama, even as more established infrastructures in neighboring Georgia and Tennessee overshadowed the state’s music publishing efforts. Some particularly influential collections of sacred music would be linked to the state, if only tangentially. Primitive Hymns (1841), for example, was a text-only collection that first appeared in compiler Benjamin Lloyd’s (1804–60) home region of central Alabama. Subsequent printings were published first in Texas and later in California as Lloyd and his heirs moved west. In contrast, the four-shape tunebook The Sacred Harp (1844) was originally compiled in west Georgia and manufactured in Pennsylvania, before it became a beloved staple across Alabama, including in the southeastern Wiregrass region where local musician Wilson Marion Cooper (1850–1916) prepared a revision nearly sixty years after the book first appeared.
Publications associated with black institutions document an important era of Alabama’s sacred music publishing history. Institutions like the Calhoun Colored School (1892–1945) in rural Lowndes County or the Banks Conservatory of Music in Birmingham occasionally issued items of sacred music for their own use or for fundraising. In an era when black music-making was often reductively characterized as a folk practice, African American classical composer Harry Burleigh (1866–1949) mined Calhoun publications for use in his symphonic and choral works. Many influential Alabama-born African American composers of sacred music found publishers through the Great Migration, including William L. Dawson (1899–1990) in Philadelphia and W. C. Handy (1873–1958) in New York City.
In the mid-nineteenth century, Georgia did not have a music publishing infrastructure to support composers like rural east Georgia’s William Clarke Hauser (1812–80) who turned to mid-Atlantic and northeastern companies to publish and print collections of sacred music. By the last quarter of the nineteenth century, however, regions of Georgia would emerge as hotbeds for music education, composition, and publication. Influential gospel composer-publishers J. B. Vaughan (1862–1918), R. M. McIntosh (1836–99), and Charlie D. Tillman (1861–1943) all set up shop in rapidly growing Atlanta by the turn of the twentieth century. The small city of Dalton, Georgia, a textile manufacturing center in the northwest corner of the state, would enjoy a substantial share of the southern sacred music market after Anthony Johnson Showalter (1858–1924) founded his influential publishing company there in 1884. A. J. Showalter & Co. would grow to include a network of regional offices that offered training and employment to musicians and composers across the Southeast.
With Cincinnati, an international center of nineteenth-century sacred music publishing, located just across the Ohio River, Kentuckians benefitted from their proximity to and entanglement with southern Ohio. Sharing a steady interstate traffic in musicians, technicians, and publications, Kentucky sacred music publishers often distributed their work through Cincinnati outfits. Regional idiosyncrasies like the mid-nineteenth-century experiments in numeral notation won the favor of prominent Louisville musicians like S. W. Leonard (1814–70) and John P. Morton (1807–89), even though the city served more as an annex to established Ohio firms than as a regional center in its own right. Beyond the Ohio River basin, poor infrastructure and challenging terrain divided much of the state into regions characterized by both geography and denominational affiliation. Beyond the city’s urban centers, church musicians created books tailored to the needs of individual congregations and other local communities. These Kentucky sacred music publications map the patchwork of denominational affiliations spread scattershot across the state: Anabaptists in the northern Knobs, Regular Baptists in the eastern mountains, Roman Catholics in Nelson County, Restorationists in the Bluegrass, Methodists along the Palisades, Primitive Baptists in the Jackson Purchase, and early communities of Pentecostals clustered in the floodplain of the Ohio.
While New Orleans rivaled Philadelphia and New York as a center for music performance and sheet music publication in the first half of the nineteenth century, few volumes of sacred music were issued in Louisiana, beyond rare exceptions reflecting the state’s cultural and linguistic diversity. Composer Frederick E. Kitziger (1844–1903), for example, was among the first to write and disseminate genteel art music for use by Reform Jewish congregations in the United States. A non-Jewish German immigrant, Kitziger worked as church organist and as section leader for New Orleans’s French and English opera houses, while also serving as music director of the city’s prestigious Touro Synagogue, founded in 1881. Kitziger’s published works consist almost exclusively of Jewish liturgical music, like his Shire Yehudah: Songs of Judah (1888–99). Other New Orleans musicians would enjoy equally cross-genre and cross-cultural careers, composing organ music for the Lutheran church, like Dietrich Meibohm (1847/48–1924), or liturgical handbooks for Spanish-speaking Catholics. Musics of Louisiana’s black populations, influenced by the state’s French and Spanish heritage, fascinated white out-of-region audiences and attracted both local and northeastern publishers. As with Gullah storytelling and music in the Lowcountry, white locals who had access to black music making in Louisiana—such as Helen Dymond Benedict (1869–1954) via individuals formerly enslaved by her family, or R. Emmett Kennedy (1877–1941) via connections in the Delta city of Gretna—profited from the packaging of their subjects’ songs and stories for consumption by white northern audiences.
Following independence from Spain in 1821, Mexico lost large tracts of land to the United States, including Texas and part of Oklahoma in 1845, with the remainder of Oklahoma ceded in 1848. Shifting borders intensified cross-cultural exchange between Mexico and the United States. Mexican sacred music traditions, including those dating to Spain’s colonial period, remained vibrant in southern Texas, New Mexico, and southern California. By the mid-nineteenth century, Anglophone hymnody became increasingly influential within Mexico, competing with vernacular music traditions including sacred genres like villancicos, coplas, alabados and the practice of sung rosaries.
The 1860 secularization of Mexico opened the door to Protestant evangelism led by US-based denominations. In 1877, Presbyterian foreign missionaries published a hymnal for use in Mexican churches. Both the Methodist Episcopal Church and Methodist Episcopal Church, South followed in 1881, with a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints denominational hymnal appearing in 1907. Despite metrical hymnody having no direct analogue in the Spanish-speaking world, the collections drew heavily on this tradition. When Mexican Protestant denominations began publishing their own hymn collections—such as the Baptist Himnario issued in León in 1915 or the 1923 Estados y liturgia de la Iglesia Evangélica Mexicana e himnario provisional—these publications continued to combine Spanish texts with the forms and performance practice of English metrical hymnody.
New strands of sacred music traditions were introduced at the turn of the twentieth century during a period of increased immigration from China, Japan, Eastern Europe, and the Ottoman Empire. Other immigrant communities, such as Mennonites of Volga German descent, crossed the US-Mexico border.
Missouri’s two great rivers provided important routes for transportation and commerce, transforming the state into a nineteenth-century manufacturing hub that included the production and dissemination of sacred music. St. Louis was the first major publication center to arise west of Cincinnati, Ohio. Situated on the Mississippi River, St. Louis attracted established music publishers eager to access the growing Mississippi Basin market. By the turn of the twentieth century, the city housed an array of denominational publishing concerns: the Christian Board of Publication (Disciples of Christ), Christian Publishing Company (Restorationist), Concordia Verlag (Lutheran, Missouri Synod), Eaton & Mains (agents for the Methodist Episcopal Church), and Eden Publishing House (Lutheran, Evangelical Synod of North America). St. Louis’s sizeable German-speaking population built a sacred music operation that served the growing Germanophone communities of the Upper Midwest and Great Plains. Along the Missouri River, the greater Kansas City area was home to publishing houses established by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in 1899 and the Church of the Nazarene in 1912. The city also served turn-of-the-century independent publisher-composers like Charlie D. Tillman (1861–1943), Leander Lycurgus Pickett (1859–1928), and Haldor Lillenas (1885–1959) who worked in a wide range of styles under the broad umbrella of gospel.
A border state during the Civil War with industrial centers serving both sides of the Mason-Dixon line, Ohio’s early abolitionist efforts appealed to the former and freed slaves who settled in cities like Zanesville and Oberlin where they and their descendants practiced and published sacred music. Cincinnati firms were printing music by the mid-1810s with some of the earliest tunebooks compiled by Kentuckians, Tennesseans, and Virginians with little access to music fonts in their home states. Many of these partnerships between regional musicians and publishers in the Dayton-Cincinnati area lasted well into the early twentieth century. By the 1870s, Cincinnati had become a music publishing hub of international importance. Some, like the Fillmore Brothers (founded 1874), published regionally and kept local communities supplied with publications in both round and numeral notation. Others, like John Church & Co. (founded 1869), contracted with composers across the globe to build a diverse catalog including both local artists and Dvořák oratorios. In the 1890s, publisher Bloch & Co. (founded in the 1850s), specialized in supplying music to the growing German-speaking Jewish populations in Cincinnati and Louisville.
While local music publishing firms supplied a diverse group of singers and musicians, the Ohio River Valley often functioned as a single economic unit. With the Ohio River connecting Cincinnati to cities in West Virginia and Kentucky, inexpensive and efficient river travel opened downriver Mississippi settlements to interstate commerce, and Ohio became an important landing place for workers across several state lines. At the turn of the twentieth century, whites and blacks left rural communities for factory work in southern Ohio. Those displaced by the boom and subsequent bust of the logging industry in 1890s eastern Kentucky eventually found employment at the Mead Paper Company and National Cash Register in Dayton. These urban enclaves became Appalachian diasporic communities that retained distinctive musical and cultural practices from their rural roots. Dayton’s Amish and Brethren communities also left their mark on the region, publishing numerous text-only hymnals and fostering musicians like the Lorenz family, whose members founded an eponymous publishing company in 1890 that remains active to this day.
From the early nineteenth century onward, indigenous nations were offered small land grants in Indian Territory in exchange for seized or ceded land east of the Mississippi River. This forcible resettlement of native peoples coincided with increased missionization efforts, resulting in the publication of mid-to-late nineteenth-century collections of Christian hymns issued by both native converts and Anglo-American missionaries in diverse native languages, including Siouan, Muskogean, and even Algonquian. White settlement of the area began en masse with the land rush of 1889, leading to the eventual incorporation of Oklahoma in 1907. Early white settlers brought singing schools, normal schools, and the seven-shape notation system from neighboring Arkansas, Missouri, and Texas. Over time, this musical infrastructure supported outfits specializing in sacred music, like the Eureka Publishing Company in Stigler, Oklahoma, founded in 1905. Oklahoma was also home to German and Volga German settlers who published music for their congregations, especially in the Anabaptist denominations.
By the early twentieth century, Tennessee was becoming an important center for the production and consumption of gospel music. In 1903, James D. Vaughan (1863–1941) founded his eponymous music company in Lawrenceville, a small town in the southeastern corner of the state that also served as a distribution hub for northwest Georgia’s Showalter Music Company. With gospel music flourishing to its south, Nashville was emerging as a center of denominational publishing. Major white and black denominations, including the African Methodist Episocal Church (founded 1816), the Southern Baptist Convention (founded 1845), and the National Baptist Convention (founded 1880), established headquarters and active publishing houses in what became known as “Music City.” Nashville was also home to several institutions of higher learning, including the historically black Fisk University. Founded in 1866, Fisk gained global renown for its touring group of Jubilee Singers that performed spirituals and folk songs collected by university faculty such as John W. Work II (1873–1925) and Frederick Work (1879–1942).
In the aftermath of the Civil War (1861–65), white settlers relocated to north and central Texas in great numbers, quadrupling the state’s population by 1900. Most settlers came from the southeastern states of Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee, bringing established sacred music teaching, performance, and dissemination practices to the region. The publication histories of select nineteenth-century musical titles and the life stories of key music figures reflect this pattern of westward migration. After first appearing in Wetumpka, Alabama in 1841, Benjamin Lloyd’s (1804–60) text-only Primitive Hymns continued to be reissued by his descendants, including at least two editions published by a granddaughter following her move to Temple, Texas. Stephen Jesse Oslin (1858–1928) was born into a musical family north of Wetumpka, Alabama, but earned a living and reputation compiling songbooks and teaching singing schools along the Texas-Arkansas-Oklahoma border region. By the turn of the twentieth century, Texas boasted numerous independent music publishers. The Dallas-based Stamps-Baxter Company was founded in 1924 by two Texas musicians whose life stories document the spread of seven-shape gospel across the United States: Alabama-born Jesse Randall Baxter, Jr. (1887–1960), studied with influential Georgia composer-publisher Anthony Johnson Showalter (1858–1924) before moving west; and Virgil Oliver Stamps (1892–1940), born in north Texas to Alabama-born migrants, trained entirely in Texas where he began his professional career as a field agent for Tennessee composer-publisher James D. Vaughan (1863–1941).
While gospel music flourished between the cities of Austin and Dallas, the sparsely populated panhandle and west Texas regions were home to diverse cultures of sacred music. The panhandle’s Czech, German, and Polish immigrants sang from songbooks catering to their ethno-religious traditions, like the 1872 Württembergisches Gesangbuch, published in Odessa. In west Texas, the Spanish-speaking majority included Catholics and Protestants who worshipped from collections like Abraham Fernandez y Cosme’s 1923 Cantos de Victoria, published in El Paso for the Alianza Ministerial Mexicana. Early twentieth-century metropolises, like the border towns of Juarez-El Paso and Matamoros-Brownsville, also had sizable Spanish-speaking communities that participated in the crossing and spanning of cultures that influenced the state’s sacred music publishing and practice.
In the mid-1810s, Mennonite composer Joseph Funk (1778–1862) began compiling tunebooks in rural Rockingham County, which would eventually emerge as one of the state’s music printing hubs. After years of relying on Pennsylvania companies for printing, Funk eventually invested in his own font of music type. This prescient investment ultimately led to the foundation of Kieffer, Ruebush & Company in the early 1870s. The Funk family publishing and printing operation would flourish into the mid-twentieth century, specializing first in four- and later in seven-shape notation. Numerous composers and music teachers apprenticed in the Funk or Kieffer, Ruebush concerns before later pursuing independent careers throughout the South, including E. T. Hildebrand (1866–1931) and J. H. Hall (1855–1941) who founded their own Virginia-based music publishing companies.
During the second half of the nineteenth century, Richmond, Virginia, became another notable center for sacred music publication and distribution, particularly of hymnals. When the Methodist Episcopal Church, South split from the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1844 over the issue of slavery, its publishing arm was first headquartered in Richmond before relocating to Tennessee in 1854. The Presbyterians also split prior to the Civil War, with some denominational publications issuing from a northern branch in Philadelphia and others from a southern branch located in Richmond. During the Civil War, Richmond was the epicenter of confederate mass media and home to publishers like the Soldiers’ Tract Association and Evangelical Tract Society that distributed free hymnals to soldiers and often included a hymn text in their tracts. Most national publishers maintained distribution to Richmond even after the Civil War diminished the city’s cultural and economic standing.
Like many indigenous peoples of the southeastern woodlands, the Muscogee (Creek) were first introduced to Christianity by Jesuit and Franciscan missionaries in seventeenth-century Spanish Florida. Unlike the Choctaw and Cherokee, however, Muscogees resisted Christianization efforts well into the nineteenth century. It was only after the 1832 Treaty of Cusseta that forcibly removed all remaining southeastern Muscogees to the Indian Territory that Methodist, Presbyterian, and Baptist missionaries gained sustained access to the nation. The first Muscogee hymnal published in the Indian Territory appeared in 1845, preceding the earliest translations of scripture that appeared in 1855. Nineteenth-century texts continue to form core Muscogee hymn repertoire. Sung from the contemporary text-only hymnal Esyvhigetv: Muskogee Hymns or by memory for both religious services and communal cultural gatherings, hymn-singing remains a valued expression of Muscogee spirituality and tribal identity.
Part of the Muskogean language family, Muskogee (Creek) is closely related to Cherokee and Choctaw. Together, these three languages account for the majority of native publications appearing in the United States before 1900. Muskogee was historically spoken in what is now southern Tennessee, Alabama, western Georgia, and northern Florida. Since the forcible removal of the Muskogee nation to Indian Territory in the early 1830s, the majority of speakers have lived in east-central Oklahoma. Creek is conventionally written in Latin letters. During the nineteenth century, most publications used a transliteration system based on one developed by Congregationalist-Presbyterian missionary Cyrus Byington (1793–1868) for the Choctaw language in the 1820s. Although the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions published a pamphlet including hymns in Muskogee as early as 1835, such texts prepared by white missionaries were less popular than works produced by native hymnodists and translators. Several collections of Muskogee hymns were published in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries with some songs, like “Hesaketvmeset Likes,” possibly dating to the time of removal. The canon of Muscogee sacred music plays an important role in contemporary language revitalization efforts.
Spanish sacred music in what is now the United States dates to the late sixteenth century. Rare print collections of sacred music began appearing in California as early as the 1750s. Numerous manuscript collections of Catholic liturgical and paraliturgical music were created in the Alta California, Sonora, and Chihuahua regions of north Mexico later annexed during the US–Mexican War (1846–48). In the late nineteenth century, Spanish-speaking populations on both sides of the border joined evangelical denominations in large numbers, shaping American, Mexican, and Spanish-American styles of sacred music. Gospel music was a crucial source of repertoire for Mexican collections like the 1870s Himnos de las Iglesias evangelicas created by Spanish-speaking Christians and the 1877 Himnos de las iglecias evangelicas created by Anglo-American missionaries. Gospel music proved equally influential on early twentieth-century Spanish-language publications from Florida, Texas, and New Mexico. Even when writing for Protestant worship, Spanish-language hymnodists took advantage of popular Catholic devotional poetry and often republished or closely emulated the work of early-modern writers like Luis de León (1527–91) and Tomás José González-Carvajal (1753–1834).
For nineteenth- and twentieth-century Christians, "revival" meant the spontaneous and inexplicable work of the Holy Spirit, but was sometimes extended to mean a series of protracted meetings for spiritual renewal. Musical practices associated with revivals were correspondingly broad. The “revival chorus”—a short, memorable refrain suitable for singing on its own or interspersed with the lines of a hymn—takes its name from these popular gatherings. Yet elaborate hymnody was also part of the revival experience, especially lengthy narrative or testimonial songs. Numerous sources of music considered suitable for revivals appeared during the nineteenth century. Small, words-only songsters, for example, were easy and inexpensive for a job printer to produce as needed for local churches. Some repertoire was specific to revivals and circulated orally, although many congregations drew from their standard materials at protracted meetings. When mass evangelism broke out in urban centers in the late nineteenth century, missionary meetings were frequently referred to as “revivals.” Most professional evangelists partnered with a musician who also served as song leader, such as the successful partnership between Billy Sunday (1862–1935) and Homer Rodeheaver (1880–1955). Alone or in a mass meeting, quietly or with great exuberance, the full spectrum of sacred music might be heard in a season or posture of revival. Collections of songs meant for revival purposes vary stylistically, and are often revelatory of the compilers’ or publishers’ understanding of this contested term.
Sunday or Sabbath schools were first established in the United States in the 1790s. Though initially confined to the urban Northeast, they later spread throughout the country and were common across the South by the mid-nineteenth century. Sunday schools were organized by individual congregations, by networks of affiliated churches, and by members of urban neighborhoods who created “union” schools that crossed denominational lines. Teachers tended to adopt secular pedagogical models to teach religious study, exhortation, prayer, and class singing for a variety of ages. Whereas older students memorized and recited passages of scripture or a catechism, the youngest children usually learned metrical psalms or hymns. Students could earn premiums, like mugs or handkerchiefs decorated with hymn texts, when they advanced to a higher class or demonstrated mastery of the material. Though early Sunday schools also taught adult students, teachers and churches ultimately turned exclusively to the needs of children, creating a repertoire largely separate from “adult” church music and texts. Sunday school music was simple, often folk-like in character, limited in range, and rhythmically driven. Texts were often shorter and simpler than other hymns, presenting subjects more moral in character rather than explicitly religious. Though the simplicity of Sunday school texts continued to reflect their intended practitioner-audience of children, the musical accompaniment often existed in lively conversation with gospel music meant for adults.