Old New Gospel Songs

“The gospel song came into great popularity in the middle of the last century largely through the evangelistic ministry of Dwight L. Moody (1837-1899) and his musical associate Ira D. Sankey (1840-1908). It was an authentic expression of the highly emotional and individualistic religious experience which was typical of the American frontier of that day. Many Christians today do not realize what a comparatively recent development in religious music the gospel song actually is. Often when the great old hymns of the church, which have survived the centuries because of the magnificent depths of pure devotion expressed in them, are introduced in contemporary services the people complain. “Why don’t we sing the good old songs? Why must we sing new songs which we do not know?” The “old songs” to which they refer are the comparatively new gospel songs which have been put to highly singable melodies of the general type of the popular songs of the day.”

–Robert Rayburn, O Come Let Us Worship

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