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Author Topic: Church Choirs  (Read 2876 times)
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Marta Vincent
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« on: May 29, 2011, 05:17:41 PM »

Not sure if this topic should be here or in 19th Century Life, but I'm beginning here...

It occurred to me this morning as I sat in a pew in period attire singing with the congregation to wonder when mixed - male/female - choirs began.  I'm a member of our choir, but because I was in CW attire, my choir robe would not fit, so I didn't sing with the choir this morning.

I know that there have been choirs or choruses since antiquity, but when did women become part of the choirs in ordinary churches in the US?  Did they wear vestments, or ordinary clothing?  Anybody done any research?
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Joanna Jones
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« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2011, 06:10:41 PM »

I have a pic somewhere of a mixed church choir from the mid 50s, if that interests you.
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Paula
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« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2011, 06:36:27 PM »

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir first sang in August of 1847.  I can't find the specific reference, but I am pretty sure that it was a combined choir.  Much smaller and less formal than today's version. It didn't reach 300 members until the  1870's.
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Marta Vincent
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« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2011, 08:15:42 PM »

I have a pic somewhere of a mixed church choir from the mid 50s, if that interests you.

Yes, thanks Joanna.  Do you know what denomination?
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Elizabeth
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« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2011, 11:30:12 AM »

I've got one that's Methodist, I'm pretty sure, from the 50s (mixed choir). The Mo-Tabs were mixed early on, and they'd fall in with some of the more evangelical forms of mid-century worship, with a church culture that was pretty segregated otherwise, so that's a fun test example.
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Regards,
Elizabeth
Emmanuel Dabney
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« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2011, 11:58:04 AM »

In the small town of City Point, Virginia I know that the Episcopal Church had women playing melodeon and singing  to the point that I'm not sure because it isn't clear that any of the church's men were involved in the musical entertainment perhaps in keeping with the cult of domesticity.

Sincerely,
Emmanuel Dabney
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Marta Vincent
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« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2011, 08:00:13 PM »

Hmmm, Interesting... I'm Episcopalian, and that very traditional denomination was so male dominated in it's early years (even up into the 1960's).  There were mixed choirs in the 20th century I know, but it's a subject that nobody seems to have bothered to write about, or photograph. 

Thanks everyone. I guess my question has been answered.  Emmanuel, That choir may have been all female just because of the size of the congregation too.  We have 7 in our choir and 6 of them are women.  Poor Al gets thoroughly abused by all of us....  Wink
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Stephanie Brennan
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« Reply #7 on: May 31, 2011, 06:57:39 AM »

Juanita Leisch's Civil War Civilians has a ambrotype of a church choir on page 3. The choir is mixed. The women look to have on their own clothing and bonnets. The demonation is not mentioned.              Stephanie
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Marta Vincent
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« Reply #8 on: May 31, 2011, 11:21:07 AM »

I have that book!  I'll look!  Thanks...
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