Refrains: Then

Chuck King briefly discusses refrains that were tacked onto existing hymns in the 19th century, covering one example, “At the Cross,” in detail.

This happened a lot in the 19th century, especially (or, specifically?) in the context of revivalist meetings. Songwriters sometimes began with the texts of existing hymns, and added a chorus (refrain). As we will see in the most familiar, abiding example, the added refrain contained very personal vocabulary and applied the “gospel” message to individuals.

This is a practice that can be found today, as well, such as in Chris Tomlin’s “My Chains Are Gone”¬†refrain for the hymn “Amazing Grace.” King promises another article soon to come discussing that very subject.

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