Details of Thesis

Title Sing to the Lord a New Song: a Study of changing musical practices in the Presbyterian Church of Victoria, 1861-1901
Author Moore, Laurence James
Institution Australian Catholic University
Date 2004
Abstract The latter half of the 19th century was a time of immense change in Presbyterianism worldwide in respect of the role of music in worship. Within this period the long tradition of unaccompanied congregational psalmody gave way to the introduction of hymnody, instrumental music (initially provided by harmoniums and later by pipe organs) and choral music in the form of anthems.  The Presbyterian Church of Victoria, formed in 1859 as a union of the Church of Scotland and the majority of the Free Presbyterian and the United Presbyterian churches and numerically the strongest branch of Presbyterianism in Australia, was to the forefront in embracing this tide of change.  Beginning in 1861with the proposal for the compilation of a colonial hymnbook, issues associated with musical repertoire and practice occupied a prominent place in discussions and decision making over the next 30 years. Between 1861 and 1901 hymnody was successfully introduced into church worship with the adoption of three hymnals in 1867, 1883 and 1898. Programs of music education were devised for the teaching of the new repertoire and for improving the standard of congregational singing. A hallmark tradition of Presbyterianism was overturned with the introduction of instruments into worship, initially as a support for congregational singing but in time as providers of purely instrumental music also. The profile of the choir changed dramatically.  Making extensive use of primary sources, this study aims to document the process of change in Victoria between 1861 and 1901, exploring the rationales underlying decisions taken and historical factors facilitating change. Musical developments in Victoria are viewed in the context of those elsewhere, especially Scotland and of general changes in aesthetic taste. The study concludes that the process of musical change shows the Presbyterian Church of Victoria to have been a forwardlooking and well-endowed institution with the confidence to take initiatives independent of Scottish control. It is also concluded that changes in musical practice within the worship of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria reflect developments taking place in other denominations and the changing aesthetic tastes of the Victorian era.
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