This post begins a series of several parts examining Ira Sankey and his “gospel songs.” “Normal” posts will be made intermittently between the different installments of this series.
When one considers the development of the fundamentalist movement, many different events and beliefs can be observed which seem to have led to its views of holiness, the scriptures, dispensationalism, separation, and other of its distinct characteristics. One of the principle figures in the movement which later became fundamentalism, a period called by some proto-fundamentalism, was the evangelist/revivalist D. L. Moody. For example, the Moody Bible Institute, named in his honor, trained many fundamentalist leaders, and its stand for premillennialism against the University of Chicago was the “first stage of the intense fundamentalist-modernist conflicts” as early as 1917.1
George Marsden observed that the influence of Moody on American fundamentalism included a doctrinal imprecision, revivalism, holiness, and evangelism.2 His impact can also be demonstrated in that those who were influenced by Moody–R. A. Torrey, for example–later themselves became influential within fundamentalism.
Of all the areas Moody influenced the fundamentalist movement, however, relatively little is written about the affect Moody and his song-leader Ira D. Sankey had on fundamentalist worship through their “Gospel Songs.” This series of posts will briefly discuss the history of these Gospel Songs, their nature, their impact on fundamentalism, and an evaluation of there present use within fundamentalist circles.
1George M. Marsden, Fundamentalism and American Culture (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980), 145.