From the Publisher's Website:
The standard of congregational singing in mid-eighteenth-century parish churches was often in a parlous state, a situation viewed with alarm by many influential clergy and social commentators. In this authoritative study, Maggie Kilbey explores attempts to improve parochial music-making over the following century and the factors that played a part in their success or failure.
Using Hertfordshire as a basis, original research by this respected author and historian uses a wide range of documentary evidence to reveal a complicated picture of influence and interaction between the gentry, clergymen and their parishioners.
Her innovative approach to the social history of church music-making sheds light on interactions between militia and church bands, singers, organists, the role of charity school children and the use of barrel organs.
Because of its proximity to London, Hertfordshire was particularly attractive to elites with an interest in the capital, and fell under the influence of metropolitan music-making more readily than less accessible parts of England.
The involvement of both fashion-conscious and socially aware gentry was mirrored by those further down the social scale, and formed part of a complex pattern of support for church music-making.
Francis Roads, West Gallery Quire Leader and Researcher, commented:
It is a scholarly work, based on Maggie's PhD thesis about the social history of church music making in Hertfordshire, rather then the music itself. It reveals a huge variety in the ways in which different churches performed their music. So there is an abundance of information about people involved in church music making in one way or another; in the churches themselves; in the various styles of accompaniment, including bands, organs, barrel organs; and in the hymn books in use. A more comprehensive survey is hard to envisage. However, you won't find any details about the music itself; there are no music examples.