- Paul A. Richardson
A general term referring to hymns collectively and also to the singing of hymns. The term is used to denote words, music, or their combination. This article surveys hymns written for and sung by Christians in what is now the United States.
For most of the early settlers and for succeeding generations, hymnody was metrical psalmody. (See Psalms, metrical and Psalmody.) Reformed groups who observed Calvin’s strictures on congregational praise sang only versified psalms. Under his guidance these biblical songs had been translated into the vernacular, put in regular poetic meters, and set to tunes crafted for this use. A complete psalter (a book of Psalms in this form), Pseaumes de David mis en rime francoises, was published in Geneva in 1562.
Two early accounts of Europeans in what is now the United States mention the singing of metrical Psalms. Huguenots in Florida in 1564 sang from the new Genevan psalter, and the songs were subsequently recalled by the Native Americans who had heard them. In ...