Lining out was a common 17th and 18th century form of psalm and hymn singing in both Great Britain and America. Though less common, it survived into the nineteenth century and to the present in some contexts. It arose in the Dissenting churches in England because churchgoers either were illiterate or lacked suitable books. In addition, few churches had (or, for theological reasons, would allow) instruments like pipe organs to give the tune.
The practice of lining out was endorsed in England by the Westminster Assembly in 1664, though only for those churches that did not have a sufficient number of psalters or literate members. It became however the norm in English Dissenting churches of all levels, and American ones as well, even after psalters became more readily available.
The tide turned against lining out in England and New England in the first quarter of the 18th century, with greater literacy, improved availability of texts like Nahum Tate and Nicholas Brady's "New Version of the Psalms of David" (1696), and more widely available and better-printed tune collections. Influential clerics in England and America disliked the ragged nature of the singing that resulted as the congregation struggled to remember both the tune and the words from the lining out.
Lining out was in most places replaced by "regular singing," in which either the congregation knew a small number of tunes like Old 100th that could be fitted to many different texts in standard meters such as Common Meter, or a tunebook was used along with a word book. There began to be "singing societies" of young men who met one evening a week to rehearse. As time went on, a section of the church was allocated for these trained voices to sit together as a choir, and churches voted to end the lining out system. We have a vivid picture of the transition in Worcester, Massachusetts:
Lining out persisted much longer in some churches in the American South, either through theological conservatism or through the recurrence of the conditions of lack of books and literacy, and in some places is still practiced today. In black churches this practice became known as "Dr. Watts Hymn Singing," a historical irony given Watts' disapproval of the practice.
Some Christian churches in the U.S. still do lining out. Many, though not all, churches calling themselves Primitive Baptist or Regular Baptist use it. The practice is becoming attenuated in some of them -- the leader will begin lining out, but after the first verse or two will say "Sing on!", or a part of the service is lined out but other parts are not -- so it is unclear how long it will survive. Many churches use Benjamin Lloyd's "Primitive Hymns" (1841) as a source of texts.
Some Presbyterian churches in Scotland also still do lining out, though often now in a restricted context, with other hymns being accompanied and not lined out.
See call and response.
Lining Out the Word: Dr. Watts Hymn Singing in the Music of Black Americans/ Sing Them Over Again to Me: Hymns and Hymnbooks in America
Nov 01, 2007; Lining Out the Word: Dr. Watts Hymn Singing in the Music of Black Americans. By William T. Dargan. Music of the African Diaspora....
Defender aims to prove his worth to Trap in friendly against AussiesIN NORMAL circumstances, he would be lining out in a Carling Cup game tonight against the mighty Morecambe. Instead, he'll be preparing for the task of manning a central defensive position for Ireland in an international against Australia tomorrow night.
Aug 11, 2009; st ledger to stake claim for cyprus tie Defender aims to prove his worth to Trap in friendly against AussiesIN NORMAL...