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Sacred Singing Traditions

Congregation at Sankey Sing-Along, Torry, Aberdeen
© Frances Wilkins, May 2006
From 2005-2009 Frances conducted PhD research into sacred singing among evangelical Christians living in North-East and Northern Isles Scottish coastal communities. She was based at the Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen, and supervised by Dr Ian Russell, director of the institute.
The exact geographical area was the stretch of coastline between Aberdeen and Wick, and the Orkney and Shetland Islands. She conducted extensive fieldwork including around 80 interviews and many more field recordings. The aim of the project was to record and analyze current practices, placing them historically and contemporaneously within the faith communities and understanding them in their socialand cultural contexts. The pivotal role of sacred music in the community was researched, along with the meaning of the music to the participants, and its role in constructing personal and group identity. Religious traditions and fishing heritage were explored with particular reference to the construction of a distinctive ’soundscape’. As far as possible, examples of sacred singing outside church worship were documented including singing in the workplace, in the home, and in the public sphere.

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