chapter  5
28 Pages

Musical repertoire

ByMartin V. Clarke

This chapter presents a series of short case studies drawn from the three broad periods of Methodist history: the era of the Wesleys, Methodism's long nineteenth century, and the post-union era. Methodism, in keeping with many other parts of Christianity, has struggled with the contentious issue of reconciling tradition with innovation in its musical repertoire. Tradition's validating role in Christian thought and practice ultimately derives from the authority accorded to the Bible and the Early Church. The post-Wesley era and the resulting formalised splits in Methodism had a considerable impact on its hymnody. Throughout its history, Methodism's musical repertoire has been affected by both the denomination's heritage and the desire for change. Conflicts between art and popular music are hardly unique to Methodism, and the tensions evident between them throughout its history are part of a much longer, broader, and sometimes more contentious debate within Christianity.