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Rethinking American Music$
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Tara Browner and Thomas L. Riis

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780252042324

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252042324.001.0001

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“We’re Marching to Zion” Isaac Watts in America

“We’re Marching to Zion” Isaac Watts in America

(p.103) 5 “We’re Marching to Zion” Isaac Watts in America
Rethinking American Music

Esther R. Crookshank

University of Illinois Press

In 1872 Henry Ward Beecher, the most prominent American preacher of the time, claimed that hymns, particularly those of Isaac Watts, shaped Americans’ theology in a uniquely powerful way. Hymns even apart from music—read aloud, memorized, and contemplated—found a special place in the inner lives of nineteenth-century Americans closely akin to that of Scripture itself. The roots of “religious emotions” in hymnody—especially for those generations of Americans who had learned hymns from childhood—were linked to a range of theological concepts. Crookshank examines how the poetry and music associated with the towering figure of Isaac Watts has been invoked and supported in a variety of religious settings for more than two hundred years.

Keywords:   Isaac Watts, religious poetry and music, psalmody, hymnody, religious emotion, Henry Ward Beecher

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