Most modern Christians don't encounter “camp meetings,” except as occasional words in hymns and choral works, but camp meetings were actual Protestant gatherings that were popular in rural America in the 19th Century.
These meetings would last for days and feature preachers, music and, of course, camping. One Methodist bishop noted about 400 camp meetings, from Georgia to Michigan, in the early 1800s, and other denominations held them too.
These days camp meetings have largely given way to modern revivals that would sooner involve hotels off expressways than rural campgrounds, but a few old-style camp meetings still exist as Amy Kiley found in Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.
Kiley visited the Meridian Herald's 18th annual "Higher Ground" Camp Meeting Service for a day of traditional music and preaching.
The Meridian Herald group will be holding a Southern Folk Advent on Dec. 5.
Music in this story includes:
- Steve Darsey singing "Mary Wore Three Links of Chain";
- The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross";
- The McIntosh County Shouters reenacting the ring shout;
- An amateur church choir sing "Let Us Break Bread Together";
- Timothy Miller sings a version of "Crying Holy Unto the Lord" and his grandmother's own version of "Down Here Lord, Waitin' on You."