It may seem unexpected to assert that controversy surrounds the introduction of hymns in religious life in England. Though many scholars have worked to catalog and index hymns, few have investigated the evolution of hymns, and their proposed meaning to religious celebration. A historical as well as a critical project, The Matter and Manner of Praise undermines the compulsion to assume that hymn-making and religion were always considered to coexist effortlessly. Most histories of hymnody and evangelical movements in England have elided the depth of feeling and concern that surrounded the debate over hymns and their use during liturgy. McCart uncovers, reexamines, and comments upon this debate. He illuminates a partly unexplored topic in English church history, by tracing the controversial shift from metrical psalms to hymnody, and also takes into account legal issues and litigation that developed over the introduction of hymns into church life. An insightful study that should be fascinating reading for anyone interested in teasing apart the historical nature of religious ceremonies and hymns.
Combining a readable style with copious footnotes, McCart chronicles the events which led to the long prevented but deeply desired singing of hymns in Anglican churches. In light of the controversy still simmering today about the liturgical use of hymns in some places, this historical study indicates a remarkable similarity in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century human perceptions of hymnody's potential both to lead and mislead the faithful. This book gives clear indication of what the fight is all about and provides us with a ringside seat for the match.--Worship