This paper attempts to explore the history of the sacred form of singing known as hymn-lining and to contribute to the debate surrounding its origin and influences on American music. Until recently, the segregation of our churches after emancipation made it very easy to forget that a tradition of the Black church was also a part of White churches as well. Hymn-lining was originally brought to Christians by Protestant churches in England to the colonies as early as the 16th century. At the same time, this sacred music form was also brought to Scotland. What is heard today in churches that still practice this type of singing is the syncretism when Christianity meets African and Gaelic traditions. The opposing views in the ethnomusicology field as to the influence that hymn-lining, and by reference Gaelic Psalm singing had on other music forms such as gospel, blues and jazz will also be discussed. While there are many efforts to keep this sacred music form alive, many churches, wanting to appeal to their younger members, don’t sing this style much anymore.

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I would like to acknowledge my Professor Dr. Anthony Dumas from the College at Brockport, State University of New York, and thank him for his tireless help and direction on this effort. I would also like to thank Deacon Charles Lowry, Sr. of the Aenon Missionary Baptist Church and Rev. Douglas Smith of the Emmanuel Missionary Baptist Church, both in Rochester, NY for their knowledgeable contributions to this project.


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