Dr Martin V Clarke writes:
Mount Zion and Illingworth Moor Chapels are home to three musical manuscripts. Two of the volumes are collections of anthems, clearly for performance by choir alone. The anthems are chiefly by seventeenth- and eighteenth-century composers, scored for SATB choir. This indicates the presence of a group of singers distinct from the larger congregation within the Society at Illingworth Moor and suggests a higher level of musical proficiency than might be assumed for a congregation at large; the presence of such a group is confirmed by the inscription in the third volume, The Illingworth Moor Singers’ Book:
This Book belongs to the Society of Illingworth Moor Methodist Church for the Use of the Singers.
Rebound by R. Sugden May 1st 1823
The manuscript of the Illingworth Moor Singers’ Book contains 84 hymns drawn from a wide range of sources and representing several historical periods, although there is a clear emphasis on recently-composed material, including some tunes by local composer Accepted Widdop. After the title page, the volume contains a single page list of names, presumably indicating these persons’ involvement with the musical life of the Society; several names are scored out and have been replaced by others, indicating that the membership changed and that it was necessary to keep accurate records of all the singers. There are forty five names listed, all of which are female; this indicates a substantial body of singers, and it may be assumed that there were male singers in addition, as the musical layout of this volume and the two collections of anthems suggest a normative SATB arrangement.
For further information, see:
Clarke, Martin V. (2010). ‘The Illingworth Moor Singers' Book: A Snapshot of Methodist Music in the Early Nineteenth Century’. Nineteenth-Century Music Review 7(1): 81-103.
Clarke, Martin V. (2008). John Wesley and Methodist Music in the Eighteenth Century: Principles and Practice. PhD thesis, University of Durham.