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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Steve Gospel Origin-Civil Rights & Labor Songs (69* d) RE: Gospel Origin-Civil Rights & Labor Songs 15 Jul 10

For gospel songs/hymns, I suggest you consult the publication _Gospel Hymns Nos. 1 to 6 Complete_, by Ira D. Sankey and others. Originally published by Biglow & Main Co., New York, 1895. Was issued in a reprint edition by Da Capo Press, New York, 1972, with an introduction by H. Wiley Hitchcock. This is probably the single most important collection of American gospel songs/hymns ever published. I think there are over 700 songs in it, probably all produced between 1870 and the publication date. (My mother left me a songster version of it with the texts of all 700-plus songs. Very easy to carry in your pocket.) The musical and religious movement its music chronicles had a tremendous impact on American popular culture. Biglow & Main was the primary publisher of early gospel songs by people like Sankey, Fanny Crosby and their ilk, but, to my knowledge, no one has done even so much as a dissertation on the company.

If it matters, you might want to think about what you mean when you use that term "gospel." Within the English-speaking world, there are basically three types of gospel songs or hymns. The first is that represented by the publications of Biglow & Main (New York) and a few others (the John Church Co. of Cincinnati, for example). This is Northern urban gospel, the product of evangelist-musician teams like Dwight L. Moody and Ira Sankey. This movement (at the time, a musical juggernaut much like CCM and Praise and Worship music today) produced the first publication bearing that term "gospel song" or "gospel hymn" in 1874. The second is the gospel rep that was the product of (often small) southern publishers like Ruebush-Kieffer (near Harrisonburg, VA), A. J. Showalter (Dalton, GA), James D. Vaughan (Lawrenceburg, TN), Stamps-Baxter (Dallas, TX, and Chattanooga, TN), Stamps Quartet (Dallas), Hartford Music Co. (Hartford, AR) and numerous others. This includes the songs of Albert E. Brumley ("I'll Fly Away," "Turn Your Radio On"), Luther Presley, Adger Pace, etc. Since the 1970s this tradition has been called southern gospel. Primary collections of this rep are _Church Hymnal_ (Cleveland, TN: Tennessee Music and Printing Co., 1951; they've sold many millions) and _Heavenly Highway Hymns_ (originally Stamps-Baxter, now published by Brentwood-Benson Co.). They're typically published in seven-shape notation. And then there's the black gospel tradition, which I know less well. For most Americans today, the term "gospel" means black gospel, which has a history distinct from, but related to, the other two. Some scholars of black gospel tend to distinguish between gospel songs, jubilee songs, and spirituals (in reverse chronological order), but a lot of people just refer to it all as "gospel." If all this confuses you, don't worry. Scholars are confused about it too.

Hope this doesn't feel like a wet blanket! (BTW, I'm a big fan of Judith of Seattle.)

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