Are there any church hymns that would be in use in the early (16th to early 18th centuries) Anglican church, and would be distinctly Anglican? (In the kind of way in which Ein Feste Burg is distinctly Lutheran).

I imagine they did use other Protestant hymns like the aforementioned Ein Feste Burg, as well as earlier Christian texts. But was there anything representative specifically of Anglicanism, 'iconic' for it?

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    Does this belong more on Christianity SE?
    – TheHonRose
    Jul 1 '18 at 23:57
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    I found they are more into modern stuff and theology as opposed to historical detail, but can try there... Jul 1 '18 at 23:58
  • Christianity SE has a fairly active 'history' tag (5th most popular) and also one for hymns so you might have some luck there. Jul 2 '18 at 0:43
  • I don't have enough information or research behind this to turn it into an answer yet, but my first stop was to see if there were any hymns associated with Thomas Cranmer, who was heavily involved in Anglican worship and the Book of Common Prayer. I found this page which talked about early importation of Lutheran hymns but then some distinctives in style: smithcreekmusic.com/Hymnology/Metrical.Psalmody/… Jul 2 '18 at 5:35
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    See the history section of this article: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglican_church_music. It had also occurred to me that Charles Wesley's hymns would count since John and Charles Wesley remained in good standing with the Anglican church, despite the movement of Methodism that they sparked becoming something separate. Jul 2 '18 at 5:47

You are out of luck for all but the very end of the period you describe. Congregational hymn singing was strongly frowned upon in the Anglican Church until popularized by Isaac Watts (1674-1748) in the early 18th century.

Watts led by including new poetry for "original songs of Christian experience" to be used in worship, according to Marini. The older tradition was based on the poetry of the Bible, notably the Psalms.
Watts was not the first Protestant to promote the singing of hymns; however, his prolific hymnwriting helped usher in a new era of English worship as many other poets followed in his path.

Here is The Anglican Hymn Book (Second Edition) (1871) which may assist in tracking older Anglican hymns.

  • That's interesting about Psalmody only being sung. Compare this article about Presbyterian worship, where they originally sang only Psalms and A Cappella: presbycarmel.org/…. Interestingly Watts and Wesley are indicated as the influences who moved Presbyterians away from Psalmody only (see quote below). Jul 9 '18 at 4:22
  • From the link above: "There were two primary factors in non-scriptural hymns becoming prominent in Presbyterian Churches. The first was that, as Horace Allen said, “Presbyterians can blame their departure from the psalter on the excellent hymns of Isaac Watts and the Wesleys.” These new “hymns of human composure” became so popular that by the end of the nineteenth century the churches acknowledged what had already become evident: Watts, Wesley, and the whole English hymn tradition had simply enticed Presbyterians away from the Psalter." Jul 9 '18 at 4:22

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