Date of Award

Summer 8-11-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Religious Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Isaac Weiner

Second Advisor

Dr. Kathryn McClymond

Third Advisor

Dr. Molly Bassett


Many scholars have recognized the communicative and emotive power of singing as a ritual performance, and some have argued that hymn singing has played a significant role as a medium of cultural and religious communication and exchange. To better understand how and why singing might facilitate such exchange, this essay explores as a case study, the role of hymn singing in the cultural contact between the Cherokees and the missionaries at Brainerd, near Chattanooga, TN. By examining accounts of ritual singing recorded by both missionaries and Cherokees, the project illuminates how these communities, respectively, may have understood the role of singing in ritual practice. From these different perceptions of ritual singing, one can better understand how the Cherokees may have experienced resonances with the missionaries’ practices, which would encourage cultural assimilation and exchange. In turn, this study contributes to a larger conversation about music and religious expression.


Included in

Religion Commons