Episode 4

Melody of Reason and Reformation: Hymns, Enlightenment, and the Church of England

Ep. 4 Analysis of Henry Abbott Sermon with Jacob Fryer

 In 1724, the reverend Henry Abbot preached a sermon in Gloucester Cathedral outlining justifications and spiritual benefits that resulted from the singing of hymns. Abbot’s sermon, dedicated to his patron Lord Bathurst, was a clear defense of music making in the church that reflected the wider contours of the English Reformation and its ongoing effort to define appropriate worship.

Not only this, but the ways in which Abbot crafted his argument corresponded to the opening transformations of Enlightenment thought in England as a whole. Hymns bore a relationship to the sensing process, a sensing process that was also at the core of the Enlightenment definition of knowledge itself.

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The Country Choristers


Primary Sources

Henry Abbott. The Use and Benefit of Church-Musick, towards quickening our Devotion. London: Jonah Bowyer. 1724

Secondary Sources

Dorinda Outram. The Enlightenment. 4th ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019.

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