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Victorian Hymns - Forgotten Books


Before the Victorian age,  singing in Anglican churches was performed by 'West Gallery Musicians'. In rural churches they performed anthems, accompanied by a variety of instruments, while in towns organs were used.  The sung and said parts of the services were divorced and hymn books were unknown. Gallery Musicians, who performed in inns, were criticised for their lack of reverence; amusing accounts of misbehaviour are found in Hardy and George Eliot.  For 100 years before the Victorian age non-conformist congregations had sung hymns which flowed from the pens of Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley who is thought to have written more than 6500.

Early in the 19th Century attempts were made by Church of England clergymen to introduce hymn singing in order to improve singing in services, notably F.W. Faber, William How, Frederick Oakley and John Ellerton, all hymn writers. Choirs in robes and surplices were introduced and the use of organs became universal by the end of the Century. Over 1200 hymn books, and an estimated 400,000 hymns, were produced between 1837 and 1901. By far the most influential collection was Hymns Ancient and Modern (First Edition 1860).

Pleas for good behaviour on the part of children are frequent, notably Christian children all must be, mild, obedient, good as He and (in my favourite end of term prep school hymn) Lord dismiss us with Thy blessing (Songs of Praise 333).

Other, less criticised, themes include: portrayal of Heaven in Neale's Jerusalem the golden (184); Christian pilgrimage in Neale's O happy band of pilgrims (208); reward and rest for those who have fought the good fight in Bonar's I heard the voice of Jesus say (247); and the beauty of the world in Pierpoint's For the beauty of the earth (104).

A frequent contemporary criticism was that hymns were excessively sentimental and effeminate, not ‘manly' nor suitable for people in their daily struggles, vide the Church Times 1897 which called for the dropping of hymns beginning with a capital I as being too subjective (cf Bonar above) and went on to complain of Newman's Lead, kindly light (215) as unsuitable for a congregation: "Largely composed of robust young men and maidens and rosy-faced children".

Victorian hymns had a unique popularity as they were sung regularly at public meetings, political gatherings, trade union rallies and for recreational purposes in private homes and even public houses. They were interwoven into Victorian social life (whereas today's hymns are confined to Church) and many have remained popular, vide a recent BBC poll in which 8 of the top 10 were Victorian: 1. Dear Lord and Father of mankind; 2. The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended; 4. Abide with me; 5. Guide me, O thou Great Jehovah.

Before the Victorian age,  singing in Anglican churches was performed by 'West Gallery Musicians'. In rural churches they performed anthems, accompanied by a variety of instruments, while in towns organs were used.  The sung and said parts of the services were divorced and hymn books were unknown. Gallery Musicians, who performed in inns, were criticised for their lack of reverence; amusing accounts of misbehaviour are found in Hardy and George Eliot.  For 100 years before the Victorian age non-conformist congregations had sung hymns which flowed from the pens of Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley who is thought to have written more than 6500.

Early in the 19th Century attempts were made by Church of England clergymen to introduce hymn singing in order to improve singing in services, notably F.W. Faber, William How, Frederick Oakley and John Ellerton, all hymn writers. Choirs in robes and surplices were introduced and the use of organs became universal by the end of the Century. Over 1200 hymn books, and an estimated 400,000 hymns, were produced between 1837 and 1901. By far the most influential collection was Hymns Ancient and Modern (First Edition 1860).

Pleas for good behaviour on the part of children are frequent, notably Christian children all must be, mild, obedient, good as He and (in my favourite end of term prep school hymn) Lord dismiss us with Thy blessing (Songs of Praise 333).

Other, less criticised, themes include: portrayal of Heaven in Neale's Jerusalem the golden (184); Christian pilgrimage in Neale's O happy band of pilgrims (208); reward and rest for those who have fought the good fight in Bonar's I heard the voice of Jesus say (247); and the beauty of the world in Pierpoint's For the beauty of the earth (104).

A frequent contemporary criticism was that hymns were excessively sentimental and effeminate, not ‘manly' nor suitable for people in their daily struggles, vide the Church Times 1897 which called for the dropping of hymns beginning with a capital I as being too subjective (cf Bonar above) and went on to complain of Newman's Lead, kindly light (215) as unsuitable for a congregation: "Largely composed of robust young men and maidens and rosy-faced children".

Victorian hymns had a unique popularity as they were sung regularly at public meetings, political gatherings, trade union rallies and for recreational purposes in private homes and even public houses. They were interwoven into Victorian social life (whereas today's hymns are confined to Church) and many have remained popular, vide a recent BBC poll in which 8 of the top 10 were Victorian: 1. Dear Lord and Father of mankind; 2. The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended; 4. Abide with me; 5. Guide me, O thou Great Jehovah.

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2017. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use (for details see http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy ).date: 26 January 2018

Discusses the woman writer, and hymn writing as an acceptable occupation for women; the character of this writing, and examples of it from Charlotte Elliott, Sarah Flower Adams, and Cecil Frances Alexander; Frances Ridley Harvergal and her enthusiasm. Also talks about Dora Greenwell and the single woman; Anna Laetitia Waring; the Brontë sisters.; Christina Rossetti.

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Before the Victorian age,  singing in Anglican churches was performed by 'West Gallery Musicians'. In rural churches they performed anthems, accompanied by a variety of instruments, while in towns organs were used.  The sung and said parts of the services were divorced and hymn books were unknown. Gallery Musicians, who performed in inns, were criticised for their lack of reverence; amusing accounts of misbehaviour are found in Hardy and George Eliot.  For 100 years before the Victorian age non-conformist congregations had sung hymns which flowed from the pens of Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley who is thought to have written more than 6500.

Early in the 19th Century attempts were made by Church of England clergymen to introduce hymn singing in order to improve singing in services, notably F.W. Faber, William How, Frederick Oakley and John Ellerton, all hymn writers. Choirs in robes and surplices were introduced and the use of organs became universal by the end of the Century. Over 1200 hymn books, and an estimated 400,000 hymns, were produced between 1837 and 1901. By far the most influential collection was Hymns Ancient and Modern (First Edition 1860).

Pleas for good behaviour on the part of children are frequent, notably Christian children all must be, mild, obedient, good as He and (in my favourite end of term prep school hymn) Lord dismiss us with Thy blessing (Songs of Praise 333).

Other, less criticised, themes include: portrayal of Heaven in Neale's Jerusalem the golden (184); Christian pilgrimage in Neale's O happy band of pilgrims (208); reward and rest for those who have fought the good fight in Bonar's I heard the voice of Jesus say (247); and the beauty of the world in Pierpoint's For the beauty of the earth (104).

A frequent contemporary criticism was that hymns were excessively sentimental and effeminate, not ‘manly' nor suitable for people in their daily struggles, vide the Church Times 1897 which called for the dropping of hymns beginning with a capital I as being too subjective (cf Bonar above) and went on to complain of Newman's Lead, kindly light (215) as unsuitable for a congregation: "Largely composed of robust young men and maidens and rosy-faced children".

Victorian hymns had a unique popularity as they were sung regularly at public meetings, political gatherings, trade union rallies and for recreational purposes in private homes and even public houses. They were interwoven into Victorian social life (whereas today's hymns are confined to Church) and many have remained popular, vide a recent BBC poll in which 8 of the top 10 were Victorian: 1. Dear Lord and Father of mankind; 2. The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended; 4. Abide with me; 5. Guide me, O thou Great Jehovah.

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2017. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use (for details see http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy ).date: 26 January 2018

Discusses the woman writer, and hymn writing as an acceptable occupation for women; the character of this writing, and examples of it from Charlotte Elliott, Sarah Flower Adams, and Cecil Frances Alexander; Frances Ridley Harvergal and her enthusiasm. Also talks about Dora Greenwell and the single woman; Anna Laetitia Waring; the Brontë sisters.; Christina Rossetti.

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2017. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use (for details see http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy ).date: 26 January 2018


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