‘Sing of the warriors of labour’
Radical religion, secularism and the hymn
in Sounds of liberty
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Chartism continued to radicalise religion and in so doing produced a democratic hymnody, one that was infused with the rugged independence typical of the proud working-class tradition of self-help. Hymns then became part of radical political discourse and the fight for democratic reform. This chapter looks both at how Chartist hymnbooks operated as a kind of ideological manifesto and at how hymns worked in action. Owenism and Chartism were linked in innumerable ways: most Owenites were in fact Chartists, but not all Chartists were Owenites. As both movements declined many Chartists and Owenites looking for new articulations of radical thought gravitated toward secularism. The Labour Church was John Trevor's attempt to provide the working classes with an alternative to secularism. From the outset it was underpinned by a synthesis between radical politics and Christian morality. An important adjunct to the musical culture of the church was an appropriate hymnbook.

Sounds of liberty

Music, radicalism and reform in the Anglophone world, 1790–1914




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