In an 18th-century Congregational church, a leader would "line out," or read a psalm one line or two at a time. The congregation would then sing it back, often to several different tunes at once. Perhaps in reaction to this method's discordant and confusing effects, itinerant singing masters began to appear in New England towns. They taught music, composed hymns, and organized church choirs.
Although his singing master told him to give up trying to learn to sing, Justin Hitchcock (1752-1822) of Deerfield, Massachusetts, father of Edward Hitchcock, persevered and eventually became an accomplished musician, leading the church choir and starting them off in tune with this wooden pitch pipe.