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Christian History Home > 1991 > Issue 31 > The Golden Age of Hymns: Christian History Timeline


The Golden Age of Hymns: Christian History Timeline
Dr. Paul Westermeyer is Professor of Church Music at Luther Northwestern Theological Seminary in St. Paul and author of The Church Musician (Harper & Row, 1988) | posted 7/01/1991 12:00AM

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The Golden Age of Hymns

1702 Isaac Watts, “the liberator of the English hymn,” becomes Minister of Mark Lane Church in London

1703 John Wesley, Methodist leader and hymn translator/compiler, is born

1704 Johann A. Freylinghausen (son-in-law of August Francke) publishes hymnal for pietists

1705 Horae Lyricae, first published collection of Watts’s verse

1707 Isaac Watts’s landmark Hymns and Spiritual Songs; Charles Wesley, writer of thousands of hymns, born; as is Selina Hastings, Countess of Huntingdon, who founds a branch of Calvinistic Methodists and publishes more than 10 hymn collections

1709 Thomas Ken’s “Doxology” takes current form

c. 1710 New “piano e forte” instrument gains interest

1712 Cotton Mather publishes hymns by Watts in the colonies; Freylinghausen’s second hymnal

1715 Watts’s children’s hymnal, Divine Songs for Children

1717 William Williams, the “Isaac Watts of Wales,” is born; he writes more than 800 Welsh and 100 English hymns, among them “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah”

1719 Isaac Watts’s The Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament

1721 First tunebooks for American singing schools

1722 Conflicts over “Regular ” singing (not lined-out) in some colonial churches; Count Zinzendorf founds refuge for the Moravians; his nearly 2,000 hymns and piety stir John Wesley, who translates one hymn as “Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness”

1729 Charles Wesley founds Holy Club at Oxford that gives rise to Methodism; Benjamin Franklin reprints Watts’s Psalms of David; Philip Doddridge, author of 400-plus hymns such as “Hark, the Glad Sound!” opens seminary

1734 John Cennick converted; an assistant to George Whitefield, he writes “Children of the Heavenly King”

1735 John and Charles Wesley sail to Georgia

1737 John Wesley prepares the Charlestown Collection of Psalms and Hymns—his first hymnal, the first published in North America, and the first of Church of England

1738 May 21, Charles Wesley’s conversion; May 24, John Wesley’s conversion; first American preaching tour of George Whitefield, who spreads Watts’s hymns

1739 Publication of the Wesleys’ Hymns and Sacred Poems

1742 Jonathan Edwards uses Watts’s hymns in his congregation; Wesleys’ Collection of Tunes As Used at the Foundry

1744 First Methodist general conference

1748 John Newton, author of “Amazing Grace!;” converted; Isaac Watts dies;

1749 Beginning of Calvinist-Arminian controversy between Whitefield and Wesley; Charles Wesley marries and publishes two-volume Hymns and Sacred Poems; papal encyclical points to dangers of instruments and theatricality

1753 George Whitefield publishes hymnal

1756 Charles Wesley’s last nationwide preaching tour

1760s Conflicts in colonial churches: Watts’s hymns vs. Psalms

1760 Martin Madan publishes hymnal; two volumes of Anne Steele’s Poems on Subjects Chiefly Devotional

1761 James Lyon’s Urania, important American tunebook

1764 John Newton takes parish in Olney

1766 Newport Collection, early American hymnal using several English authors

1769 Gerhard Tersteegen, German Reformed hymn writer, dies; John Wesley translated his hymns

1770s James Montgomery, author of “Angels from the Realms of Glory,” writing hymns

1770 George Whitefield dies; William Billings’sNew-England Psalm-Singer, first all-American tunebook

1771 Last edition of Freylinghausen’s hymnbook; Wesley sends Francis Asbury to America

1776 Augustus Montague Toplady publishes hymnal including his “Rock of Ages”




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