During the sixteenth, seventeenth,and eighteenth centuries, lined hymn singing was the primary method of teaching and celebrating God’s Word—due primarilyto the cost of books and high illiteracy rates during those periods. When slaves began to establish their own congregations,they took this tradition with them, and it ultimately became a part of the African experience in America.
The structure of lined hymn signing consists of a song leader “lining out” the words of the song and the congregation responding with the same words but in a more elongated,intentional tune and style.
Although this tradition was introduced to the slave community after many slaves were converted to Christianity, much of what gave this tradition life was the experience of the slaves before their conversion. The “moaning” that is often a part of the lined hymn tradition represents a deep cry to God and asks the question, “Lord, how come we here?”
—Safiyah Fosua, Robert McMichael III, and Cynthia A. Wilson, Reflect, Reclaim, Rejoice: Preserving the Gift of Black Sacred Music (Discipleship Resources, 2015)
How often does your congregation cry out to God in song or through prayer? Join the conversation.
The Israelites groaned under their slavery and cried out. Their cry for help rose up to God from their slavery.
—Exodus 2:23 (NRSV)
Prayer for the Week
Bread of heaven, feed me until I want no more. Help me to understand that without you, it is impossible to survive in this world and its experiences. Thank you for being present with me in all circumstances. Amen.
Submit your prayer to The Upper Room.
Prayer is one of the best ways to place yourself in God’s presence and deepen your spiritual life, so we offer this free downloadable resource Prayer Practices for Disciples as a gift to you in honor of The Upper Room Chapel’s 70th Anniversary. Download and learn more about the resource here.
(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)
Looking for lectionary-based resources? Learn more about The Upper Room Disciplines.