During the mid-nineteenth century, farmers spent almost every Sunday in church. Many farmers recorded attending church on a weekly basis in their diaries. In 1855, John B. Weeks frequently attended church with family and friends. His diary reveals that the pastor’s sermons were an important part of the service.
Sun 21st Went to Jones Ville Church, Rev Benedict preached from Numbers 32 Chap 6 Verse. We had a verry good discourse the Funeral of Peter H Banta was given out to day 2 o clock at the church. Came home & took a lunch and went back to the Ville to the Funeral Rev Sanford preached from Thes 4 Chap 14th Verse, there were a great many people at the Funeral; Banta left a wife & some young children
The Methodist Harmonist contained the music for many of the hymns of the Methodist Church. The Methodist Harmonist shows how important music was within the church. The book not only includes the melody for each hymn, but provides harmony parts for every song. Hymnals, although important to the worship service, did not provide musical notation.
Music has always been an important part of the Methodist church service. During the mid-nineteenth century, people brought their own hymnals to church with them. Hymnals were often small enough to fit inside a pocket but were very expensive books. Because of their expense and important place in the church service, people often gave and received hymnals as gifts. The modern Methodist Church service still includes the singing of hymns. Most people now use hymnals provided by the church rather than bringing their own.
The church bell called the community together for worship and marked events taking place at the church, including weddings and funerals. Everyone in the community, whether they attended church or not, heard the bell at least once per week. When someone died, the bell rang once for each year of the person’s life. Life-cycle and family events in rural New York, concerned not only an immediate family, but the entire community.