mourners' bench

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mour·ners' bench

A bench for mourners or repentant sinners placed at the front in a revival meeting: "That night I was escorted to the front row and placed on the mourners' bench with all the other young sinners" (Langston Hughes).
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

mourn′ers' bench`

a front bench at a revival meeting for repentant sinners.
[1835–45, Amer.]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
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References in classic literature ?
"Oh, come to the mourners' bench! come, black with sin!
Folks got up everywheres in the crowd, and worked their way just by main strength to the mourners' bench, with the tears running down their faces; and when all the mourners had got up there to the front benches in a crowd, they sung and shouted and flung themselves down on the straw, just crazy and wild.
The Mourners' Bench, his "emotional puzzle play," opened at Trinity Rep in 2012, with Michael Perlman at the helm.
Perlman makes a similar point: "In The Mourners' Bench, every character in every scene is looking for love," the director observes.
The early Methodists and Baptists never held IPOs of course, but if they had, many southerners who would never have dreamed of sitting on the mourners' bench might have bought in.
That night I was escorted to the front row and placed on the mourners' bench with all the other young sinners, who had not yet been brought to Jesus.
Young lambs, won't you come?" And he held out his arms to all us young sinners there on the mourners' bench. And the little girls cried.
After the hour or so of singing warmed our spirits and after the visiting preachers' sermons scared us to death about the wages of sin, unsaved young people (and a few desperate older sinners) went to the mourners' bench, dropped to their knees panting and praying, and fervently begged God for salvation, while congregation members clapped and sang over them, urging Jesus to come and save their souls.