British Hymn Books for Children, 1800-1900
Re-Tuning the History of Childhood
Examining nineteenth-century British hymns for children, Alisa Clapp-Itnyre argues that the unique qualities of children's hymnody created a space for children's empowerment. Unlike other literature of the era, hymn books were often compilations of many writers' hymns, presenting the discerning child with a multitude of perspectives on religion and childhood. In addition, the agency afforded children as singers meant that they were actively engaged with the text, music, and pictures of their hymnals. Clapp-Itnyre charts the history of children’s hymn-book publications from early to late nineteenth century, considering major denominational movements, the importance of musical tonality as it affected the popularity of hymns to both adults and children, and children’s reformation of adult society provided by such genres as missionary and temperance hymns. While hymn books appear to distinguish 'the child' from 'the adult', intricate issues of theology and poetry - typically kept within the domain of adulthood - were purposely conveyed to those of younger years and comprehension. Ultimately, Clapp-Itnyre shows how children's hymns complicate our understanding of the child-adult binary traditionally seen to be a hallmark of Victorian society. Intersecting with major aesthetic movements of the period, from the peaking of Victorian hymnody to the Golden Age of Illustration, children’s hymn books require scholarly attention to deepen our understanding of the complex aesthetic network for children and adults. Informed by extensive archival research, British Hymn Books for Children, 1800-1900 brings this understudied genre of Victorian culture to critical light.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction: Re-tuning the history of childhood with chords and verses; Creating communities for song: class and gender in children’s hymn-singing experiences; Re-writing the history of children’s literature: three periods of children’s hymnody; Erasing child-adult distinctions: ’crossover’ children’s hymn-texts and tunes; Staging the child: agency and stasis for children in art and hymn-book illustrations; Reforming society: missionary, bands of hope, and bands of mercy hymns; Resurrecting the child: the cult of the deathbed, hymns of faith, and children of life; Works cited; Index.
Alisa Clapp-Itnyre is Professor of English at Indiana University East, USA.
"All in all, it seems to me that this volume will become an important resource, even a starting point, for anyone wishing to understand the religious culture of the child in the nineteenth century." -- Stephen Parker, University of Worcester