m. ward – involuntary

From one of my favourite albums of the last decade, Transfiguration of Vincent, released in 2003 (in fact, that’s more than a decade ago now, wow!). The title alludes to John Fahey’s 1965 album,The Transfiguration of Blind Joe Death, and also refers to the life and death of Vincent O’Brien, a close friend of Ward’s. Here’s a moving and informative interview with Ward from around the time of the album’s release.

poor wayfaring stranger

A recording of lined-out singing by the Indian Bottom Association Of The Old Regular Baptist Church in Appalachia.

“Lining out”, also called “hymn lining” or “line singing”, is a haunting form of a cappella hymn-singing or hymnody in which the song leader gives each line of a hymn tune as it is to be sung, usually in a chanted form suggesting the tune, and the rest of the congregation then sings the line. It can be considered a form of heterophonic call and response.

Although the practice has now all but died out, it was once very common in Old Regular and Primitive Baptist churches to hear line singing, because musical instruments were not allowed in these churches, and some people in the congregation could not read to use a hymnbook either.

Listen to more line singing HERE or read an interesting piece comparing line singing and sacred harp singing HERE.