The three hundred year span of time from 1640 to 1940 saw the development of great variety in congregational singing throughout America. Beginning with the Psalters of the first colonists, Americans contributed widely varying styles of songs and hymns, culminating with the popular and influential gospel song.
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.
What is God calling you to do, to become? Unsure? In Mark 1:17 we read of Jesus calling Peter and Andrew: “Come, follow Me.” Not only is He direct, notice the important implication: To say “follow Me” assumes He’ll show the way! The application for us today is simply this: The serious seeker will not be left in the dark. Wait upon the Lord if you are uncertain. When God is clear, go for it!
In addition to the many programs and institutions Moody established and the countless people he led to Christ, he and Sankey created a model for teamwork that influenced future evangelists like Billy Sunday and Billy Graham.
Joseph Scriven was born in Dublin in 1820 and graduated from Trinity College, Dublin. He moved to Canada in 1845 where he led a humble life until his death in 1886. Ira D. Sankey, in his Story of the Gospel Hymns, wrote that “the young lady to whom Scriven was to be married was accidentally drowned on the eve of their wedding day. This sad event led him to consecrate his life and property to the service of Christ.
Charles T. Studd (1862-1931) was a national sports hero in England and a renowned cricket player, Studd abandoned fame and fortune after his conversion at a Moody-Sankey evangelistic crusade. He gave away over 100,000 pounds and went to China in 1885 to serve under Hudson Taylor at the Inland China Mission.
George Campbell Morgan (1863-1945) was born in Gloucestershire, England. He was ordained in the Congregational Church and began his ministry at churches in Birmingham and London. In 1883 he began working with Dwight L. Moody and Ira Sankey during a revival in Britain.
Dwight Lyman Moody (1837-1899) was one of the great 19th century American evangelists. He was born in East Northfield, Massachusetts to a family of modest means. His father died when Moody was four and financial circumstances and his own unruly nature kept him from receiving more than a superficial education.