Subjects: Invitation, Altar call, Sankey, Ira, Baptist hymnal, Evangelicals, gospel hymns.

Abstract: Perhaps the most distinctive characteristic of traditional evangelical worship is the widespread practice of the “invitation” near the close of the worship service. A significant element of that invitation is the accompanying hymn, one that emphasizes the need for conversion and spiritual renewal. This thesis addresses the origin and early evolution of the public invitation, and more specifically, the hymns that have been used by evangelicals for this part of their worship. Hymns from Gospel Hymns Nos. 1 to 6, the most popular hymnal among evangelicals in the nineteenth century, are analyzed and discussed along five primary categories: 1) metaphors and imagery, 2) scriptural allusions, 3) overarching themes, 4) hymn forms, and 5) fundamental theological themes. Finally, hymns of three recently published Baptist hymnals, those belonging to what is presently the largest evangelical group, are evaluated and compared along similar lines to determine the nature of the contemporary hymn of invitation.

Link to Document: Online access available via BEARdocs.