Just as sermons were central to Dissenting identity, so too were hymns. Hymns rapidly became a means of creating a sense of group cohesion, as well as transmitting important ideas and doctrine to the congregations that sang them. Particularly when there were concerns about spiritual lethargy, hymns were an excellent way to ensure that Dissenting congregations maintained a sense of ‘spiritual wakefulness’. Not only could hymns be used to inculcate a sense of Dissenting identity and transmit paraphrases, prayer, and praise, they also proved to be a popular evangelistic tool both as part of domestic revivals and, later, in foreign mission fields. They were a means to convey practical Christian experience and also to point towards the best ways to practise the Christian life.
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