Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Seventh Day Baptist History VIII

Seventh Day Baptists Sing

It would seem that Seventh Day Baptists have always praised God with song. Early in the English Reformation there was controversy—as there sometimes is today—about what should be sung, and where and how. Joseph Stennett (1663-1713), pastor and hymn writer, wrote in a time when many Protestants objected to singing anything but the Psalms. He composed hymns about baptism and communion, always taking care to make their Scriptural basis clear. His most explicitly Sabbatarian hymn was Another Six Days Work is Done. Joseph’s grandson, Samuel Stennett (1727-1795) is probably the best-known Seventh Day Baptist hymn writer. His words for Majestic Sweetness Sits Enthroned and On Jordan’s Stormy Banks I Stand appear in most Protestant hymnbooks.

William C. Daland
In the 19th and 20th centuries Seventh Day Baptists were enthusiastic participants in congregational singing, using the great wealth of Protestant hymnody from various traditions. There were also distinctly Seventh Day Baptist hymns by people like J.M. Stillman, Mary Stillman, William C. Daland and Elizabeth Fisher Davis. Elizabeth Fisher Davis wrote the Young People’s Rally Song which proudly announces “We young folks are Seventh Day Baptists.” Daland wrote God of the Sabbath which comes very close to being the official hymn of the denomination:

God of the Sabbath, unto Thee we raise
Our grateful hearts in songs of love and praise.
Maker, Preserver all to Thee we owe;
Smile on Thy children, waiting here below.

Music has also been a vehicle for evangelism. In the early 1900s male quartets and female quartets ventured out from the colleges, singing for revival meetings in local churches, often using the popular Towner song books. Late in that century a similar ministry was taken up by young Seventh Day Baptists performing in groups like the “Lightbearers for Christ,” and later, “Stained Glass,” presenting the gospel using contemporary forms of music.

Music has always been an integral part of Seventh Day Baptist worship and ministry—from the earliest hymn writers in England to a rousing rendition of Wonderful Grace of Jesus by the congregation at a General Conference worship service.

Pictured is William C. Daland. Click on the image to the right to get a full size version of the hymn. "Towner" was the songbook favored by the male quartets. The title of this post, "We Glorify Thy Name" is that given to a collection of Seventh Day Baptist hymns and songs edited by Rev. Lester G. Osborn, Rev. Victor W. Skaggs and Howard S. Savage and published in 1946.

This series begins with: "Seventh Day Baptist History I - Seventh Day Baptist Origins"

Links to all of the posts about Seventh Day Baptist History can be found here.

This series of short summaries of Seventh Day Baptist history is part of a project undertaken for the Seventh Day Baptist Historical Society, which maintains its archives and a museum in Janesville, Wisconsin.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated. I will gladly approve any comment that responds directly and politely to what has been posted.