University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
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Abstract

For over a century, Protestant evangelists have held revivals to spread their beliefs. The invitation song is the culmination of these meetings; a sermon ends with an invitation to the unsaved to come forward and publicly accept the faith of the revivalists during the “invitation song.” This hymn is not just a traditional means to allow converts to declare their faith; Christians view this time of congregational singing as an intensely personal declaration of their own conviction, a discourse between themselves and the divine. The singers believe their music can be a powerful instrument of change because of a fundamental belief that the divine is present in their singing. Through archival research and field study of modern Arkansan revivals, this paper examines the evangelical Christian’s perception of the invitation song as both a means of spiritual discourse between laity and divine and as a vital persuasive device.

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