This will be a short, but hopefully interesting post.
Take a look at the psalm singing in this video from Scotland, or maybe this one also. Now go over and take a look at this hymnody from Kentucky. See any similarities? Well you should. What’s being sung in the latter video traces it’s origin directly back to traditional Scottish Psalm singing or what’s also sometimes called “Lined-Out Hymnody” or simply “Lining out”.
Now, I apologize for all the links, but this is truly amazing stuff we’ve got here. There’s no surprise that the people of the Appalachian Mountains would have brought with them certain singing styles from the Highlands of Scotland. We see that with a lot of different folkways. But it’s just amazing for me to see this music tradition, which is truly ancient, surviving so far away from its homeland.
In America this style of “linging out” has survived mostly in the Old Regular Baptist communities of the Appalachian Mountains and in certain African American communities in the South (as shown in this video and this one), although the style has crept into many other hymn singing traditions of the South. It’s an interesting subject to look at especially in relation to the influences of Old World folkways upon New World traditions and the convergence of hymn singing from Black and White communities.
The origins of “Lining out” are discussed in this wonderful video entitled “American Music: A Discussion on ‘Lining Out’”.
Also Alan Lomax’s “Southern Journey Vol 4: Brethren, We Meet Again – Southern White Spirituals” has several examples of lining-out as well as Sacred Harp and other Southern hymn singing traditions.