Amish

The Amish, a branch of the Mennonite Church, was formed in Alsace in 1693 under the leadership of Jakob Amman. The Amish were distinguished from other Mennonite congregations by extremely conservative dress and the shunning of technological advances and of "the world" in general. The Amish of Canada settled in southwestern Ontario, having come from the USA after 1815 and directly from Europe in 1822; they numbered about 1000 baptized persons in 1991. They have preserved their German dialect. The music in their twice-weekly services consists solely of unaccompanied unison congregational singing; no instruments are used. Some congregations use the "thick" Anabaptist hymnal ("das dicke Buch") entitled Ausbund (Mennonite Publishing House, Scottdale, Pa, but first published in Germany in 1564, making it the oldest Protestant hymnbook still in use); others use the "thin" ("das dünne Büchlein") Unpartheyische Liedersammlung ("Non-denominational Song Collection") (Mennonite Publishing House 1972), which contains songs from Ausbund and Unpartheyisches Gesang-Buch ('Non-denominational Songbook') (Johann Bär, Lancaster, Pa 1804; 6th edn 1854). The melodies are not notated in either of these books. Also in use is a condensed version of the Unpartheyisches Gesang-Buch called Gemeinschaftliche Liedersammlung ("Brotherhood Song Collection"), containing notated alternative (generally faster) tunes to the same Ausbund texts and first published in Berlin (Kitchener), Ont in 1836. Throughout centuries of aural transmission the melodies of the Ausbund hymns (ie, Gregorian melodies, reformation hymn tunes, and sacred and secular folk tunes of the 16th century) have become highly ornamented.

At the Sunday evening "singings," which offer the traditional opportunities for courting, Amish young people sing from their "thin" book and Church and Sunday School Hymnal (Mennonite Publishing House 1902). In some Amish schools the children sing from the Church and Sunday School Hymnal and Das [sic] Neue Kinder-Lieder (Pathway Publishers, rev ed 1972). Most Amish neither dance nor sing secular songs.