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.