The revivalist tradition is rooted in pietist hymnody. It is characterized by an emphasis on the relationship of Christ (the bridegroom) to the church and to the individual believer (the bride). It is commonly held that Isaac Watts combined most successfully the expression of worship with that of human devotional experience. The Wesleys developed what we know today as “invitation” songs. When transported to America, this tradition gave rise to the modern revival movement.
No orders of service from either of Charles G. Finney’s pastorates are extant. However, orders of service from the First Church in Oberlin, Ohio, are available from the pastorate of Finney’s successor, James Brand, dating from the 1890s—a full twenty-five years after Finney’s retirement. In addition, sermon notes (c.1850) from Finney’s son-in-law, James Monroe, containing order-of-service outlines, are also available. The orders of service described in Monroe’s notes correspond to the orders of service observed at First Church of Oberlin nearly a half-century later. We can, therefore, have a certain amount of confidence that the order of service given below (a hybrid developed from Monroe’s notes and the First Church orders) is similar to the liturgy employed during Finney’s tenure.
A definite pattern of worship developed in the revival movements of the American frontier and in the campaigns of American evangelists. This “revivalistic” approach to worship has continued as the dominant tradition in the “free churches” of America and is found today particularly within the fundamentalist and evangelical communities.
Pondering the recent loss of two former beloved parishioners, as the Lord would have it, I “happened” to begin reading excerpts from the memoirs of revivalist Charles G. Finney (1792-1875) in which he wrote about the extreme affliction of mind and immeasurable grief he suffered over the loss of his first wife (Lydia).
Charles Grandison Finney (1792-1875), the great 19th-century revivalist, abolitionist, and educator was born in Warren, Connecticut but moved as a youth to New York and later New Jersey, where he went to school.