Lining Out

   Practice of congregational singing whereby the precentor (song leader) sings one or two lines of the hymn or psalm, quite slowly, which then the congregation repeats, often with melodic elaboration. The precentor proceeds to the next one or two-line segment, the congregation repeats it, and so forth for the entire text. The earliest documentary evidence of the practice is in A directory {}for the publicke worship of God throughout the three kingdoms of {}England, Scotland and Ireland (London, 1644), an English Puritan book. In America, the Dutch Reformed Church of New York ordered {}voorzanger to "tune the psalm" for the congregation in 1645. It was adopted in many colonial churches by the early 18th century, and since then it is associated with African American congregations. Today it may be found in Gaelic areas of Scotland and in some Baptist congregations in the American south.

Historical dictionary of sacred music. . 2006.

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