Wednesday, April 11, 2001
What are your favorite hymns?
Westville Village wants to know
What are the three hymns you love to sing the most?
To find the answer to that question, Westville Village in Lumpkin is conducting a survey to determine the most popular religious tunes for congregational singing. Everyone, regardless of religious background, is invited to submit a personal list.
The Westville Village staff asks individuals, especially those in Georgia and Alabama, to contact Westville with a list of their top three favorite selections. Only one list from each person will be accepted. A name is optional. Results will be reported in the next Westville newsletter and in the media.
"Hymns are the most common type of religious tune in America," said Matthew Moye, director of the living history museum near Lumpkin. "Hymns came into use in the South about 1800 and carried personal messages of joy, hope, diligence and forgiveness which appealed to the frontier settlers. The Protestant hymn thus became a common voice for Southerners who didn't see other humans very often."
It so happened that the advent of hymn singing coincided with a dramatic increase of slavery.
"As a result of the invention of the cotton gin in 1793, cotton became a major fiber for cloth, Moye continued. "As demand for cotton increased, many more slaves were needed to tend the cotton fields. More slaves meant more opportunity for evangelizing and churches evangelized the slaves with hymns. These slaves responded to the promise of a better life in the hereafter. It was in these humble settings that the music of Europe and of Africa became intertwined."
There is little doubt that the impact of these blended Southern hymns pervades the music of the world now.
"Out of this traditional Southern bicultural cookpot came a wondrous string of musical forms, the likes of which the world had never seen before," Moye said. "Southerners really don't appreciate how important their creative culture is. We at Westville hope to call attention to the importance of the Southern ways of singing hymns."
Those wishing to submit their personal list of favorite hymns may send them to Westville, P.O. Box 1850, Lumpkin, GA 31815, call direct 229-838-6310 or toll-free 888-733-1850, or E-mail email@example.com.