Back in 2012, The Singing Bones posted an awesome quartet version of an old lining hymn, “A Charge to Keep” by the Echoes of Zion. The Echoes’ song is reminiscent of an earlier quartet record by The Pilgrim Travelers, “I Love the Lord” (also recorded by Rev. Robert Crenshaw in a congregational version). All of these records bring to mind another really fine congregational lining hymn recorded in a Chicago church service by Deacon Leroy Shinault around 1957. Alan Lomax writes, in his notes to Negro Church Music (Atlantic LP 1351), “The most vigorous survival of early black religious folk culture is the lined-out psalm, which is not black in origin, but goes back to the beginning of the Reformation in Europe. . . . The early Protestant leaders needed hymns by means of which they could teach their radical doctrines to an illiterate congregation. Therefore their song leaders intoned the psalms line by line. After each line was given out, the song leader led the congregation in singing it.” Though the Deacon Shinault record is rarely seen (or heard) in its original incarnation on Ping, and it certainly isn’t here, it (and its flip) has been reissued over the years on LP and CD and should be relatively easy to find.
Deacon L. Shinault • Lord I Come To Thee • 1957
Originally posted April 28, 2012