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The most obvious challenge to silence was women's singing. Not only did they sing, women were principals in choirs and they played the organ and piano. A female soloist rendering a soul-stirring sacred song became a popular feature of Baptist worship services and religious programs. This kind of "special music" was probably introduced first at women's meetings and in more secular settings like denominational school programs, then utilized effectively in worship services as those services became more planned and less spontaneous. The identification of women with music became so accepted that women were often given the leadership in this element of worship. With no apology a man reported in 1903,

Wife and I engaged in a protracted meeting at Falls City, Texas, the second Sunday in August—that is, I was the preacher and she had in charge the music [sic].

Although one minister felt compelled in 1896 to argue that women's singing was acceptable only because it was not teaching or assuming authority over a man, BS , February 20, 1896, p. 3. that was a rare defense for an unquestioned practice. And as defense it was inadequate: most of the gospel hymns—the ones that were not sentimental and "inspirational"—were written specifically to be instructive, to present biblical truths to common people in a memorable format. See discussion in John B. Boles, The Great Revival, 1787-1805 (Lexington, Ky.: The University Press of Kentucky, 1972), pp. 121124. Although the results of American popular hymnody were not as artistically meritorious as the sculpture and stained glass of medieval cathedrals, the motivation behind them was the same. In direct repudiation of his reasoning was the appearance around the turn of the century of "evangelistic singers," members of traveling teams who set the tone and reinforced the message of the evangelist. The services of one such singer were advertised in the summer of 1914:

. . .Mrs. Anna Ellis Dexter, voice teacher in the Academy [San Marcos], is to spend the vacation singing in revival meetings. With all my heart I do commend Mrs. Dexter as a Christian lady of rare culture and a singer of remarkable power. She will help wherever she may be engaged.
BS , June 18, 1914, p. 12. Just as the continued dominance of men in preaching stemmed, in part, from an irrational preference among Baptists for the sound of a man's speaking voice, there existed a similar preference for woman's musicianship that effectively side-stepped any legalistic objection to her exercising that gift. Baptist women were allowed to "preach" melodically long before they could in spoken voice.

The movement toward the establishment of denominational order during the nineteenth century had more effect on the right of women to pray and to testify in worship than on their performing music. Baptists, like other left-wing Protestants, based membership on a person's conversion; time-honored practice required that the believer relate his or her "Christian experience" before the church, answer questions posed by the congregation, then after the members gave their vote of approval, submit to baptism by immersion. William W. Sweet, Religion on the Frontier: The Baptists, 1783-1830 (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1931), pp. 52-53. In the general reaction against women asserting themselves following the Civil War, some men advocated that a woman's testimony be given only once and be limited to brief answers to or affirmation of statements framed by the pastor.

If she gets up on ordinary occasions of public worship and delivers a speech—calling it her experience—before a mixed audience, she violates a divine command, and, of course, sins against God,
explained Dr. Spencer with his characteristic conservatism. BS , June 24, 1897, p. 7. But Texas Baptists were not generally that restrictive. Their conviction that the composition and continued life of the church was based on just such a witness of God's action in an individual's life and their fear of inhibiting the work of the Holy Spirit led them to encourage women to make their own confessional statements. Because the right to sing was rarely addressed, this public action of women in worship was the clearest example to them that a compromise with silence was necessary and defensible. The example of daughters prophesying in Acts 2 proved to them that women's lips
were not to be hermetically sealed.
An editorial statement made in the Baptist Standard in 1897 refuted Dr. Spencer and outlined common practice in Texas:

Questions & Answers

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Source:  OpenStax, Patricia martin thesis. OpenStax CNX. Sep 23, 2013 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11572/1.2
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