Monday, October 31, 2016

Multiplying by Dividing: Southern Baptist Mid-life Crisis

[I wrote the following historical article in 2012 for the SBC Heritage web site. Since that site is no longer available, I am posting the article here.]

Much Baptist history is written in controversy. This tendency often invokes sadness in us. But it should be no surprise that Baptists who hold a high view of Scripture would fight for and even divide over what they contend Scripture teaches. The Southern Baptist Convention was not only birthed in controversy, but also developed in it. From 1845 to the present Southern Baptist Christians have held out for their own particular vision of the forward biblical march. Along the way some conflicting visions were bound to arise.

Several dissensions early threatened the peace of the Southern Baptist Zion. None shattered its union until the end of the 19th century. The Landmark controversy surrounding J. R. Graves and unrest over the theological positions of seminarians Crawford Toy (circa 1880) and William H. Whitsitt (circa 1895) provide some background for late 19th century SBC problems. Nevertheless, some who stood together against Howell and Whitsitt would stand against one another in the later controversies. Hence we begin.

The Gospel Mission schism (circa 1885—1900) became a problem toward disunion. Whether or how many churches actually left the SBC immediately due to Gospel Missions is an undetermined factor. Regardless, Gospel Missions revealed an area of discord and paved the way for later schisms. This division centered on the mission methods promoted by a veteran Southern Baptist missionary to China, one Tarleton Perry Crawford. He and those who agreed with him promoted a change in SBC mission methods. Sides were taken – some for Board methods and some for Gospel Mission methods. Local Baptist associations tried to keep peace and stave off division. Into the 1910's and even later some associations allowed both Mission Board reports and Gospel Mission reports to be presented at their meetings. In 1892 the SBC Foreign Mission Board removed Crawford as missionary, setting the stage for more problems to come.

The first major division within the Southern churches occurred in the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Several years of dissension led up to this. The Baptist Missionary Association of Texas was organized in 1900. Aside from personalities, the struggle featured the issue of church sovereignty and how it relates to the organized work. This is considered a landmark influenced controversy. But leaders on both sides held landmark positions on the church and baptism, so this consideration is probably overemphasized. Gospel Missions was not a strong influence on the BMAT leadership as it was in the later division in the Baptist State Convention of Arkansas. The chief antagonist against the BGCT, Samuel A. Hayden, opposed withdrawing from the convention. The view presented by Joe Early in A Texas Baptist Power Struggle: the Hayden Controversy captures the greater truth of the matter – the “Hayden Controversy” in late 19th century Texas was a power struggle for the heart of the Convention between (mainly) S. A. Hayden and B. H. Carroll. Carroll won; Hayden supporters withdrew. Many people have failed to realize the scale of this division. Major leaders and large churches of the BGCT left and went into the Baptist Missionary Association. The BMAT had about as many churches after its first few years of organization as it has today. Lack of organization, internal dissension within the new association, and vigorous efforts used by the BGCT to “stop the bleeding” and get churches & preachers to return combined to keep this new group from possibly outgrowing the BGCT.

Several other divisions occurred in the South about this time. The next of any large scale would be in Arkansas. Led by Ben M. Bogard, Landmark and Gospel Missions Baptists asked for several concessions in policy and method on the part of the State Convention. When the Convention did not accept the proposals, nearly half of Arkansas churches withdrew and formed the State Association of Missionary Baptist Churches of Arkansas in 1902. As late as 1924, the SBC was still listing these "Landmark" churches in the Convention annual, though few if any were likely still cooperating with the Convention. Unlike many of the Texas leaders, Ben Bogard had a view for a work beyond the state level and apart from the SBC.

In the first quarter of the 20th century, several other smaller divisions occurred within state Southern Baptist organizations. Alternative associations were organized on at the state level in Mississippi (1908), Oklahoma (1903,1920/merged 1925), Florida (1920), Louisiana (1924), Georgia (1925), Alabama (1927), Missouri (1928), California (1933), and Tennessee-Carolina (1938). In 1905, several Landmark Baptists, mostly from Arkansas, organized a General Association of Missionary Baptists for the purpose of carrying on foreign mission work separate from the SBC. The BMAT had their own foreign mission work and most Texas churches did not participate in the new group. A unification movement finally brought these scattered missionary Baptist churches under one organizational umbrella. The result of that effort was the formation of the American Baptist Association in 1924. The ABA, the successor to the old General Association, gathered into one organization many churches that left the Southern Baptist Convention as a result of this late 19th and early 20th century foment and unrest.

The fundamentalist movement gained steam in the early 1900s. The drive of independent fundamentalists, especially under the aggressive guidance of Southern Baptist Texan J. Frank Norris, would slough off another chunk of churches from the Southern Baptist fold. This effort produced the World Baptist Fellowship (Norris’s group), the Orthodox Baptist Fellowship, and, eventually, numerous other independent Baptist fellowships. Both the Landmark and Fundamental movements provided the incentive for a number of other churches that would remain wholly independent and unaffiliated with any conventions, associations or fellowships. Interestingly, Fundamentalist J. Frank Norris (TX) and Landmarker Ben M. Bogard (AR) moved in some of the same circles in the 1930's, having common purpose yet never achieving agreement.

Finally, there is what might be called "silent splits." These are divisions that are considered minor, that go unmentioned, were confined to smaller geographical areas, or that left little lasting evidence that they occurred. These splits certainly were not silent while they were happening! The Kelleyite division in Arkansas left little on the radar screen and is usually only known to people in the affected geographical area. George M. Fortune appeared in Paris, Texas and produced quite a stir around the state over his heresies. After he moved on to Oklahoma, Fortune and “Fortuneism” would be almost forgotten by future generations. At least twenty or more local or district associations scattered through Tennessee, Missouri, Kentucky, Alabama, and Mississippi dropped out of the SBC in the mid-20th century. Today they are mostly known as “Old Time Missionary Baptists.” The theological aberrations of M. T. Martin, known as “Martinism,” caused serious discord and division throughout the 1890’s for Southern Baptists. Evidently it left little or no permanent mark that is noticeable among Baptists.

Unlike the modern schisms that pitted moderate/liberal versus conservative,[1]  most of the late 19th and early 20th century divisions in the SBC pitted conservatives against conservatives. One conservative vision prevailed and the others moved on to pursue their own distinct visions. A drink of the sometimes murky waters of Baptist history will help provide lasting insight for the present, of who we are, where we’ve been and what concerns we have.

A Baptist Source Book by Robert A. Baker (Broadman Press, 1966)
“Arkansas Baptist State Convention” by Kenneth M. Startup in The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture (online)
A Texas Baptist Power Struggle: the Hayden Controversy by Joseph Early, Jr.
History of the Baptist Missionary Association of Texas by W. H. Parks

[1] E.g. Alliance of Baptists and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

Sunday, October 30, 2016

When storms or tempests rise

When storms or tempests rise,
Or sins your peace assail,
Your hope in Jesus never dies;
‘Tis cast within the veil.

 Excerpt from John Kent, in Gadsby’s Selection #921

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Expressive or strategic voting?

Stop Shaming Other Christians into Voting Against their Conscience (or “Am I Wasting my Vote?”) -- “I think the worst thing about this contentious presidential election year is the degree to which Christians have been divided against each other.”

In this article Peter Wielhouwer writes some interesting things, including the “two major ways of thinking of your vote” -- expressive voting or strategic voting. Expressive voting expresses support for a candidate or party. Strategic voting is a means of accomplishing an outcome other than direct support (e.g., keeping the opposing candidate out of office).

He also encourages Christians to do better with how we act when engaged in politics “and  live out the command to 'love one another'.”

See also by Wielhouwer: Readings from Christian Perspectives on the 2016 Elections -- “I think you ought to read selections from both sides.”

Friday, October 28, 2016

The well of the soul, and other quotes

The posting of quotes by human authors does not constitute agreement with either the quotes or their sources. (I try to confirm the sources that I give, but may miss on occasion; please verify if possible.)

"The tears of a minister of Christ are from the well of the soul." -- copied

"God has appointed the building of His creation as well as its demise according to His own will and purpose..." -- Mike McInnis (Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy. Isaiah 54:16)

Love for the brethren can only come to those have been given peace, legally and experientially -- not in the flesh with all of its filth, but of the mind and heart that has been given sensitivity of spiritual things. -- Mikal Smith

"It is melancholy to think, as if men did not die fast enough of themselves, how ingenious and industrious they are to make instruments of death and to find out ways and means to kill one another." -- Matthew Henry, in his commentary on Isaiah 54

"Critics of the Primitive faith have been preaching its funeral since the 1830s, and today even its friends feel concerned. But..." -- John G. Crowley

"The more men you have together, the more devils you have together." -- Duncan McCranie

"I don't argue with science. I ignore it." -- Fred E. Blanton

"Water is judgment and death, passing safely through the waters is salvation, and the instrument of salvation is Jesus." --  Mike Bergman (The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us... 1 Peter 3:21)

"When you are older, be the kind of person you needed to know when you were younger." -- copied

"Whatever harms the mother harms the baby, whatever harms the baby harms the mother, and whatever harms either of them harms us all." -- Sue Ellen Browder

"I have come to the position that your expressive vote for a minor party candidate is not wasted, you just have to understand that you are taking a public stand for what you believe." -- Peter Wielhouwer

Thursday, October 27, 2016

8 reasons why some Evangelicals are voting for Donald Trump

A recent blog post by Southern Baptist pastor Peter Lumpkins explains eight reasons why he thinks many people identified as Evangelicals are voting for what one commenter who voted for him called (in quotes) a "misogynist, racist, sexual predator" conservative. I list and call attention to his eight reasons below.
  1. Evangelicals are voting for Donald Trump because they're convinced a Clinton White House threatens the future of the United States
  2. Evangelicals are voting for Donald Trump because they're convinced a Clinton White House forges the Supreme Court toward a Leftward direction for at least the next generation
  3. Evangelicals are voting for Donald Trump because they're convinced a Clinton White House seals the destruction of the 2nd Amendment
  4. Evangelicals are voting for Donald Trump because they're convinced a Clinton White House disassembles our Military and needlessly put our sons and daughters in harm's way
  5. Evangelicals are voting for Donald Trump because they're convinced a Clinton White House advances the culture of death, and in every conceivable way, pushes an abortion on demand and euthanasia agenda to extremes we've not experienced in the United States
  6. Evangelicals are voting for Donald Trump because they're convinced a Clinton White House continues a fatal attack on religious liberty and especially discriminates against conservative Christian beliefs and values in society generally and education particularly
  7. Evangelicals are voting for Donald Trump because they're convinced a Clinton White House increases socialized medicine by extending Obamacare's failed policies further into the lives of American citizens
  8. Evangelicals are voting for Donald Trump because they're convinced a Clinton White House loosens even more the failed immigration laws we presently have so as to endanger the lives of American people by implementing more open border policies, offering mass amnesty for illegal immigrants, and through insufficient patrol, encourages terrorists to enter our borders by stealth.
Every evangelical will not agree with all 8 reasons -- I know some who make the decision for Trump based on only one. I call attention to this, even though many know I won't be voting for Trump, because (1) Christians who make this choice are railed against by other Christians as unchristian hypocrites, and (2) Peter has concisely explained why many have made this choice that is railed against by other Christians, including Evangelicals. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Tola - the Seventh Judge

Judges 10:1 And after Abimelech there arose to defend Israel Tola the son of Puah, the son of Dodo, a man of Issachar; and he dwelt in Shamir in mount Ephraim.

All we know about Tola is given in this one verse. He is not mentioned by Josephus. Certainly he was a servant of God and a patriot of Israel. When his people needed a defender, he rose to the occasion. Unlike his predecessor, Abimelech, he sought no honors. He was content simply to do what he could for Israel. The twenty-three years of Tola’s judgeship were probably quiet years. The nation suffered no major invasions. They were not tributary to a foreign king. These peaceful years were the result of the victories of Gideon. Tola helped to perpetuate the peace. Thus, we see that the influence of a God-fearing man lives on long after his death. Unfortunately, the influence of the wicked often lives on even longer.

The best men are not always the best known. They just go quietly about their duty, unconcerned for honor or worldly fame. Such people will not make the Who’s Who, or be selected for the Hall of Fame, but they can rejoice that their “names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). They may go virtually unnoticed by men, but God takes not and will appropriately honor such in due time. "Your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly” (Matthew 6:1).

By O. H. Griffith, circa 2002 [I recovered the above writing by Brother Griffith from an e-mail I had printed out. It appears there may have been another paragraph that is missing.]

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A Harvard professor, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Monday, October 24, 2016

The tune Anhalt

Mosher, W. H. B. Of Mosher, J. S. James wrote that “He was for a long time connected with, and a member of the Southern Musical Convention, but nothing has been known of him since the War.” There is a good possibility that this is William H. B. Mosher of Barbour County, Alabama. He was born in Rhode Island circa 1823, and was living in Barbour County by 1850, when he was counted in the U. S. census. On February 16, 1854, he married Mariah A. Hill in Barbour County. His whereabouts after that time are unknown. A person with these same initials shows up in some Detriot, Michigan documents in the late 1850s. Some genealogists identify Mosher of Barbour County as William Henry Bradley Mosher (1826–after 1846) of Bristol, Rhode Island, the son of William H. Mosher and Susan Bradford. This William Mosher graduated from Brown University in 1846. The tune Anhalt is labeled (by James) as written in 1859 but was not added to The Sacred Harp until 1870.
206b     Anhalt (originally 345b)

Historical Catalogue of Brown University, 1764-1904, Mary Drew Vaughan, Providence, RI: By the University, 1905. p. 618
Original Sacred Harp, J. S. James, 1911 p. 345
U.S. Federal Census, Barbour County, Alabama, 1850
Alabama marriages,

* J. S. James's "1859" dating of this song most likely is an editorial or printing error. The printing in the 1870 book does not give a date that the song was written.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Song of the Lamb, B. Keach

The Song of the Lamb, Part 1. By Benjamin Keach (1696)
1 Break out ye Saints with joy and sing,
to the Eternal King;
The Angels do blest Tidings bring,
Hosannah in the highest.
2 In Bethlehem the Babe is born,
cease, cease, your bitter Mourn,
Your Sorrow now to Singing turn,
Hosannah in the highest.
3 He's come, he's come, O happy Day!
dark Shadows fly away,
The Substance's come to Christ I say,
Hosannah in the highest.
4 See how the Cherubs clap their Wings,
the Glor'us Host now sings;
Th' Eternal Day, see how it springs!
Hosannah in the highest.
5 Behold the Lord Baptiz'd by John,
and what a Glory shone!
The Father says, This is my Son!
Hosannah in the highest.
6 He's come, he's come down from above,
full of Eternal Love;
And also sealed by the Dove,
Hosannah in the highest.
7 The Dumb do speak, the Blind do see,
the Dead they raised be;
And Lepers cleans'd of Leprosie,
Hosannah in the highest.
8 He Preaches with Authority,
God's Kingdom doth draw nigh,
And pardons all Iniquity,
Hosannah in the highest.
9 Behold him now beset with Grief,
Angels bring him Relief,
They him adore because he's chief,
Hosannah in the highest.
10 Behold him in his Agony,
our sins on him did ly,
God's Justice he did satisfie,
Hosannah in the highest.
11 Behold him now upon the Tree;
he cry'd in Miserie,
Oh! Why hast thou forsaken me?
Hosannah in the highest.
12 Ah! hear him make most bitter Moan,
hearken to his last Groan;
For now for us his Life is gone,
Hosannah in the highest.

Alabamians share favorite Easter hymns, and other music links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Online Baptist Hymn and Tune Books

Sir Walter Scott:
Devotion borrows Music’s tone,
And Music took Devotion’s wing;
And, like the bird that hails the sun,
They soar to heaven, and soaring sing.

Song books
Links to my Lists of Baptist Hymn Books

About or related to hymn books

Friday, October 21, 2016

Two Important Southern Hymn Books; Comparing Mercer and Lloyd

The Cluster of Spiritual Songs, Divine Hymns, and Sacred Poems, being Chiefly a Collection was first published by Jesse Mercer (1769-1841) around 1800. The oldest surviving copy was published in 1810.[1] A Mercer’s Cluster was reprinted at late as 1875 in Philadelphia, suggesting there was at least some demand for the hymn book over 30 years after Mercer’s death. The Primitive Hymns, Spiritual Songs, and Sacred Poems: Regularly Selected, Classified and Set in Order, and Adapted to Social Singing and All Occasions of Divine Worship was first published by Benjamin Lloyd in 1841, the year Jesse Mercer died.[2] It has remained in publication from that time to the present.

Some researchers of Mercer’s hymn book, such as Kay Norton & Don Tennyson, believe that Benjamin Lloyd used The Cluster as a prototype for his own hymn book.[3] In contrast Primitive Baptist writers such as R. Paul Drummond, discount the idea, positing the ecclesiological differences between the two and the simple fact they could have coincidentally used a common source.[4] There is little doubt there is some incidence of common source. Lloyd did not identify his sources or credit any authors of hymns,[5] so one cannot determine the sources based on original documentation. We are left rather with the evidence of circumstance. Different investigators, approaching with different inclinations, come to different conclusions. I now cast mine into the ring as well.

First, a definite conclusion is not possible. All conclusions are based on circumstantial evidence and are susceptible to interpretation. As Drummond points out “there is no real evidence to disprove these assertions.” Several factors alone may not have great significance, but together may bind a tighter case.

Regional proximity
Jesse Mercer and Benjamin Lloyd, though of different generations, were both Southerners of similar background and religious persuasion. Though Lloyd may not have known Mercer, their lifespans overlap by over 35 years – and Lloyd certainly would have known of the prominent Georgia Baptist Mercers. Benjamin Lloyd was an active Georgia Baptist preacher in the last ten years of Mercer’s life. He was born in Hancock County, Georgia, the very area where the Mercers were located. Benjamin’s grandfather, John Lloyd, settled in Hancock County in 1784, about 3 miles west of Powelton. Silas Mercer organized the Powell’s Creek Church there in 1786 and pastored until his death in 1796.[6] Though Lloyd was born here in 1804, his parents moved to Jones County when he was small.[7] Nevertheless, is it likely that his family, if Baptists, were members of the Powell’s Creek Church.[8] It is know that Lloyd’s future father-in-law Cary Cox “and his wife were received into Powell’s Creek Baptist Church in Warren Co., on 2-7-1795.”[9]

Theological similarity
Theological differences between Mercer and Lloyd are often raised as reasons Lloyd would not have copied Mercer. There were differences. But sometimes they are misunderstood and overemphasized. For example Kay Norton, citing Beverly Bush Patterson and commenting on the Lloyd and Mercer common heading “On Free Grace”, says that this was “an emphasis that sometimes rendered the Lloyd collection less popular with Primitives.”[10] Neither Mercer’s nor Lloyd’s “On Free Grace” sections have anything to do with Arminianism, but rather with their common belief that God’s grace is free and unmerited by any act on man’s part. Tennyson, a Southern Baptist, assumes that Mercer and Lloyd would have different positions on “election, predestination and feet washing”[11] – with Lloyd demonstrating “the absence of overtly pro-mission hymns and the presence of certain hymns about foot washing, predestination and election.”[12] Lloyd was not “pro-mission” and would exclude such hymns.[13] Lloyd emphasized feet washing perhaps to a greater degree than Mercer, including five hymns under his heading “Washing the Saints’ Feet.” But at least two of Mercer’s hymns favorably mention the practice of feet washing, numbers 404 and 544.[14] Further Mercer boldly used “Election, ‘tis a joyful sound” (the first line of his No. 45, but first line of the second stanza of Lloyd’s No. 18). Mercer and Lloyd well agreed that “Long ere the sun began his days” salvation was fixed by the three-in-one and that by God’s “high displays of sovereign grace” not one whom God predestinated would be lost (Mercer 54 and Lloyd 6).[15] Jesse Mercer’s Ten Letters Addressed to the Rev. Cyrus White demonstrate well his allegiance to the doctrines of predestination, unconditional election, and the limited atonement.[16] It must be understood that the great division between Baptists in the 1810s to 1840s was more ecclesiological (as a matter of practice) than soteriological (as a matter of salvation) – certainly in Mercer’s and Lloyd’s cases.

Organizational comparability
The similarities of The Cluster and Primitive Hymns have been noted by both those who conclude that Lloyd used The Cluster as a prototype and those who disagree. I do not expect to change many opinions but wish to point out some of the correspondence between the two books that has been previously noted, but add one that I think has not. 

Comparing Mercer and Lloyd[17]
o   Likeness of title
§  Spiritual Songs, Divine Hymns, and Sacred Poems” vs. “Primitive Hymns, Spiritual Songs, and Sacred Poems
§  There is a certain parallel in the titles of the two works. This is one easily ascribed to coincidence and commonality. Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs are mentioned in the Bible and frequently used in hymnal titles. In contrast, in my list of over 400 Baptist hymn books and hymnals, the word “poem” is used prominently in only ten titles (including The Cluster and Primitive Hymns) and “Sacred Poems” is found in the title of only one other than these two – The Western Harp, or Hymns, Spiritual Songs, and Sacred Poems, by Peter Long in 1848 (seven years after Lloyd’s book).
o   Agreement of content
§  Mercer “clustered” his hymns in topical order, beginning with “Free Grace,” as does Lloyd. From here they diversify, but also share the headings “Glories of Christ,” “Conviction & Conversion,” “(Believers’) Baptism” and “Christian Exercises.” Lloyd creates many categories not found in The Cluster. Nearly half of Mercer’s hymns are found under the heading “Christian Exercises.”[18] “Christian Exercises,” though not occupying as large a percentage in Primitive Hymns as in The Cluster, is by far the largest section of subjects (162 of 700 hymns) in Lloyd’s book. The largest individual sections, in decreasing order, are “Prayer,” “Joy and Praise,” “On Free Grace” and “The Glories of Christ.” The two largest (“Prayer,” “Joy and Praise”) are themselves sub-categories of the “Christian Exercises” category of songs.
§  Lloyd’s hymn choices often agree with Mercer’s. 58 of Lloyd’s hymn were in the 1810 Cluster – about a third of Mercer’s content at the time. “…51% [of Lloyd’s hymns] were found in the 1823 edition of Mercer’s Cluster…”[19] In itself this in not a particularly compelling argument, considering Tennyson found a greater percentage of Lloyd’s hymns (58%) in the 1828 Dover Selection of Andrew Broaddus.
o   Hymns with the same tune recommended:
§  In some cases Mercer and Lloyd name hymn tunes to match particular hymns in their books. For example, Portugal is recommended for “How lovely, how divinely sweet” (Mercer 354 and Lloyd 331) and Lenox for “Awake, awake, arise,” “Blow ye the trumpet, blow,” “Come every pious heart,” “Encouraged by thy word,” “Jesus, at thy command,” “Sinful, and blind, and poor,” “Supported by thy Word,” and “Why tarriest thou, arise.” Since Lenox and the hymns are H.M. (Hallelujah Meter, or there may not have been many well-known tunes from which to choose.
o   Hymns with the same subject heading:
§  Both Mercer and Lloyd give titles or subject heading for their tunes. Many of them that I compared were the same. Some are simple or short enough to explain by coincidence, but others seem unlikely to have arisen that way.
§  Awake, awake, arise: The birth of Christ hailed
§  Blow ye the trumpet, blow: The jubilee
§  Come every pious heart: Christ’s love above all price
§  Encouraged by thy word: The beggar’s plea made before the Lord
§  How lovely, how divinely sweet: The blessedness of public worship
§  Jesus, at thy command: The Christian’s life perilous
§  O when shall I see Jesus and reign with Him above: Longing for and encouraging others in the way to heaven
§  Sinful, and blind, and poor: Bartimaeus, or a convicted sinner begging
§  Supported by thy Word: This is the victory, even our faith
§  Thy mercy, my God, is the theme of my song: Grace, free and full
o   Hymns in the same order:
§  Hymns that Lloyd shares in common with Mercer are often found in the same order (or reversed order) in both books. Here are a few examples:[20]
Mercer No.    
First line of hymn
Lloyd No.
Long ere the sun began his days 
When first the God of boundless grace 
The soul that’s truly born of God
Behold the Savior of mankind 
High on a throne my Lord doth sit
Up, haste to Calvary, my soul 
To him who on the fatal tree 
How condescending, and how kind 
How sweet and awful is the place
A thousand promises are wrote 
Come, humble souls, ye mourners, come

We also find that Lloyd’s 65-71 are Mercer’s 148-155, though not in exactly the same order. Lloyd’s 129-131 are Mercer’s 220-218 (i.e., in reverse order). Lloyd’s 160-163 are Mercer’s 239-242, though not in exactly the same order. Should a perusal of the order of the hymns in The Cluster and Primitive Hymns yield fairly consistent results, this would add to the weight of evidence toward Lloyd’s using The Cluster as a prototype and away from the explanation of simple coincidence.

According to C. D. Mallary, The Cluster had “extensive circulation in many parts of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi...”[21] It “reflected [Mercer’s] understanding of biblical doctrine.” Chute’s proposition that use of The Cluster would have “affected the theology of those who attended worship where it was in use” seems reasonable.[22] Its wide circulation in the South reasonably suggests that it influenced the orbit of Benjamin Lloyd. It probably was acceptable to many “Primitive” Baptists until the rise of the mission controversy. “The hymnal that Jesse Mercer edited, The Cluster, enjoyed a commanding presence in the majority of Baptist churches in Georgia until he added hymns containing missionary themes.”[23] The mission controversy provided the reasoning for a new hymn book.

There is no shame that Lloyd would have looked to a successful and familiar hymn book for ideas on how to move forward with his fledgling venture. There was no need to reinvent the wheel. Where he found agreement with Mercer’s content and method he had a handy guide. Where he did not, he could consult others and use his own judgment. The division in the Baptist fellowship made Benjamin Lloyd feel the necessity of moving forward with a hymn book for the Old School Baptists, “…seeing that no one of the Primitive Denomination has stepped forward.”[24]

  • A Piety Above the Common Standard: Jesse Mercer and the Defense of Evangelistic Calvinism, Anthony L. Chute, Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2004
  • A Portion for the Singers: a History of Music Among Primitive Baptists Since 1800, R. Paul Drummond, Atwood, TN: Christian Baptist Publications, 1989
  • “A Study of Benjamin Lloyd’s ‘The Primitive Hymns’,” Don Tennyson, Thesis, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, 1973
  • Baptist Offspring, Southern Midwife —Jesse Mercer's Cluster of Spiritual Songs (1810): A Study in American Hymnody, Kay Norton. (Detroit Monographs in Musicology/Studies in Music, 34.) Warren, MI: Harmonie Park Press, 2002
  • “Baptist Offspring, Southern Midwife--: Jesse Mercer's Cluster of Spiritual Songs (1810): A Study in American Hymnody,” a book review by Stephen A. Marini in Notes 59(4):884-886, January 2003, Music Library Association, Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Benjamin Lloyd’s Hymn Book: a Primitive Baptist Tradition, Joyce Cauthen, editor, Montgomery, AL: Alabama Folklife Association, 1999
  • Biographical History of Primitive or Old School Baptist Ministers of the United States, R. H. Pittman, Anderson, IN: Herald Printing Co., 1909
  • “Elder Benjamin Lloyd: a Pioneer Baptist in Alabama,” Zion’s Landmark, Vol. 113, No. 9, August 1980, (By Oliver C. Weaver, originally published in The Alabama Review 21, April 1968: 144-55)
  • “I Will Sing the Wondrous Story”: a History of Baptist Hymnody in North America, David W Music and Paul A Richardson, Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2008
  • Memoirs of Elder Jesse Mercer, Charles Dutton Mallary, New York, NY: John Gray, 1844
  • Primitive Baptists of the Wiregrass South: 1815 to the Present, John G. Crowley, Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press, 1998
  • The Cluster of Jesse Mercer, C. Ray Brewster, Macon, GA: Renaissance Press, 1983

[1] “Mercer…published the first edition of The Cluster around 1800 as a collection of roughly 150 hymns and added a small supplement to the 1804 edition. No copies of these first two editions have survived.” (Marini, Notes, 884)
[2] There are no extent copies of the 1841 edition.
[3] Baptist Offspring, Southern Midwife, Kay Norton, p. 83 and “A Study of Benjamin Lloyd’s ‘The Primitive Hymns’,” Don Tennyson, 1973, p. 26, both promote this proposition.
[4] A Portion for the Singers, Drummond, pp. 77-78
[5] Only one hymnist is identified in Primitive Hymns. A note under hymn number 690 explains, “This hymn was composed by Rev. F. Swint, formerly a member of the Darien Church, Ga., in view of the discord produced by the introduction of the religious societies in the churches.” Elder Frederick Swint (1789-1860) (there called “Reverend) was an early Baptist minister in Chambers County, Alabama. He was one of four ministers of the presbytery (along with Lloyd) when Mount Pisgah Primitive Baptist Church was constituted in 1837, and was the first pastor of the church. Don Clark, from Mount Pisgah, says Lloyd’s hymn book has been continuously used in the song services at Mount Pisgah Church since it was published in 1841.
[6] That Silas Mercer was held in high esteem might be noted in naming children, such as Elder John Parker’s son Silas Mercer Parker
[8] As far as I know, no one has investigated the church records for the Lloyd family.
[9] To my parents Jesse Berryman Robinson II and Helen Evelyn Cox, Helen R. Graves, [S.l. : s.n.], 1900, p. 150
[10] Baptist Offspring, Southern Midwife, Norton, p. 83; Drummond agrees that Lloyd’s has a few “texts that…reflect doctrines that are not typical of the Old Baptists,” but does not think this a major difficulty with the volume. –  A Portion for the Singers, Drummond,  p. 78
[11] “In the early nineteenth century Primitive Baptist hymnody, as typified by The Primitive Hymns, is (with the exception of a few hymns dealing with election, predestination, and feetwashing; and the omission of hymns related to missions) essentially in the same stream as the hymnody of the pro-mission Baptists.” – Tennyson, p. 29
[12] Benjamin Lloyd’s Hymn Book, Cauthen, p. 66
[13] It was the system Lloyd opposed and not preaching the gospel. He would have no problem with texts such as hymn number 557, “Go forth, ye heralds, in my name…Where’er the human race is found, The joyful news to all impart…” It is interesting that, though Lloyd would use some hymns that would later be criticized as “pro-mission” and “Arminian” (Tennyson cites 109, 118, 142, 435 & 559) he includes none of the 20 hymns in Mercer’s “Missions” section of his book. Subtitled “The Dawning of the Latter-Day Glory,” these hymns seem to me to be heavily weighted toward the postmillennial eschatological position. Millennial differences may have been part of the impetus for world-wide missions among some Baptists and part of the source of consternation among those Baptists who held a non-millennial or premillennial position.
[14] This should come as no surprise, considering the active practice of feet washing among the Separate Baptists of Mercer’s heritage. It should also be noted that all Primitive Baptists do not observe the rite.
[15] Mercer also includes John Newton’s hymn in which the Great Physician “rescued me against my will.” (No. 5)
[16] Mercer probably disagreed with “the absolute predestination of all things,” but so do the majority of those styled Primitive Baptists.
[17] To me it seems ideal to compare Mercer’s 1835 edition with Lloyd’s 1841 edition. I have compared Lloyd’s 1858 with Mercer’s 1823 online and the first lines and hymns in Ray Brewster’s book.
[18] Based on the 1823 edition; see, e.g., A Piety Above the Common Standard, Chute, p. 38; p.223 43.37% devoted to his category titled Christian Exercises in 1823 edition
[19] Tennyson, as cited in Benjamin Lloyd’s Hymn Book, Cauthen, p. 66
[20] I changed Mercer’s original Roman numerals to Arabic numerals.
[21] Memoirs of Elder Jesse Mercer, Mallary, p. 85
[22] A Piety Above the Common Standard, p. 38
[23] A Piety Above the Common Standard, p. viii
[24] The Primitive Baptist, March 18, 1841; cited in Benjamin Lloyd’s Hymn Book, Cauthen, p. 63

Two Important Southern Hymn Books: Mercer’s and Lloyd’s