20 May 2021

'Bluegrass and religion' - your views are invited

Thanks to John Lawless on Bluegrass Today for news of an interesting project originating on this side of the Atlantic - 'Bluegrass and religion', subtitled 'An investigation into the meaning of bluegrass songs'.

Peter Ward (right) is professor of practical theology at Durham University in northern England. He is also mandolin player in the band Assembly Lane, and in view of the place of gospel music in bluegrass, he has set up the project to explore how, and to what extent, the songs are significant for players and listeners. 'Bluegrass and religion' includes a survey providing audio recordings, full texts, and background history to half a dozen familiar songs and one instrumental, each of which is accompanied by questions about what the piece means to you. The background history is well worth reading - for instance, the texts include the original words of 'Will the circle be unbroken?' by the English hymnist Ada R. Habershon. The views of all bluegrass people - of any religion or none - are welcome. All comments received and used in the research will be anonymous.

The Bluegrass Today feature includes a video (also on YouTube) of Assembly Lane performing 'Don't you hear Jerusalem mourn?' with four-part harmony, followed by the tune 'Sandy boys'. Recommended!

© Richard Hawkins


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