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Source: Patterson, D W, 1979, The Shaker Spiritual, Princeton University Press, New Jersey

Shaker 'Solemn Songs' were sung in "what they called an unknown language". This is quite commonly encountered in religious groups and is usually referred to these days as "speaking in tongues", Glossia or Xenoglossia.

Patterson wrote:

In these tunes one seems to see evidence of new melodies made from elements of old ones ... Variant A, a Solemn Song known at both Canterbury and Enfield, Connecticut. In the form sung at Enfield in the 1780s this strain serves as a refrain - a fact that may explain the reversing of the strains in Thomas Wright's tune. The refrain itself, however, may not even have been part of the secular original of the Enfield tune. The closest analogue of the melody, an Appalachian variant of "Lady Isobel and the Elf Knight," lacks the refrain. The additional phrases in the Shaker tune seem suspiciously similar to ones in a Scots version of "The Famous Flower of Serving Men." Whether a composite or not, the Enfield melody is one of the loveliest ever recorded by the Shakers."

and elsewhere:

Analogues: "Lady Isobel and the Elf Knight" in Bronson Traditional Tunes, i, 45, no. 9, and "The Famous Flower of Serving-Men" in iv, 485-486, no 6.1


Related Songs:  The Famous Flower of Serving Men (melodic) The Outlandish Knight (melodic)

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