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These musical practices included hand clapping foot

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Unformatted text preview: preachers. Bush meetings were similar, but they were smaller and conducted out in the open, not under tents. 7 Much of our knowledge of these camp meetings comes from Daniel Alexander Payne (1811- 1893) who recalled his experiences attending these meetings in Recollections of Seventy Years (1888) and History of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (1891). In Recollections, he describes his horror observing a bush meeting: After the sermon, they formed a ring, and with coats off sung, clapped their hands and stamped their feet in a most ridiculous and heathenish way. I requested the pastor to go and stop their dancing. At his request they stopped their dancing and clapping of hands, but remained singing and rocking their bodies to and fro…. After the sermon in the afternoon, having another opportunity of speaking alone to this young leader of the singing and clapping ring, he said: “Sinners won’t get converted unless there is a ring…. The Spirit of God works upon people in different ways. At camp meeting there must be a ring here, a ring there, a ring over yonder, or sinners will not get converted.”6 These ring dances were direct descendants of African traditions. In west Africa, a popular activity was to gather to watch dancers who were dancing in a ring and participate by joining in the song refrains, clapping hands, tapping feet, or even entering the dance ring on occasion. The tradition encouraged them to shout words of encouragement or disapproval to the performers. These ring dances survived as the “shouts spirituals” throughout the 19th century. For these shout spirituals, people would gather into two groups called the shouters (who were the dancer...
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