The ministry of song : unmarried British women's hymn writing, 1760-1936
Because they were not obliged to take on the familial tasks which until recently have defined woman's role, unmarried British women of literary talent and Christian conviction have often seen themselves as being called to the vocation of hymn-writing. Through biographical study, historical contextualisation and close reading. this thesis examines hymns written by seven such writers, over the period 1760-1936. Chapter 1 examines how Anne Steele's hymns gained entry into print, and came to be circulated and popular. It also demonstrates how the image of Steele as a sickly spinster perpetuated by the Victorian hymnologists is too limited a picture of the writer. Chapter 2 considers two labouring-class hymn writers, Susanna Harrison and Eliza Westbury, and shows how they were heavily influenced by the images and stylistic features of the earlier male hymn writers from the Evangelical tradition. Chapter 3 looks at Charlotte Elliott's writings, which were mostly for invalids, and considers how nineteenth-century Evangelicals often envisaged invalidism as a time for refinement of faith and spiritual action, and the `cult of invalidism' is contextualised. Chapter 4 considers how the writings of Dora Greenwell championed the underprivileged, and envisaged the second coming of Christ as a time for the vanquishing of evil and injustice. Chapter 5 looks at the work of Frances Ridley Havergal, one of the most popular hymn writers of the Victorian era. It considers her Evangelical background, her interest in organisations which encouraged female fellowship and ministry (such as the YWCA, the Mildmay Deaconess Institution and the Zenana missionary organisations), and the transformation of her active faith into a more contemplative one after her experience of `Consecration'. Chapter 6 examines the work and life of the Anglo-Indian hymn writer Ellen Lakshmi Goreh, and considers in further detail the opportunities offered to British women by the call for Zenana missionaries. Chapter 7 looks at the life and writings of Amy Carmichael, founder of the Dohnavur Fellowship, who spent most of her life working as a missionary in India. It shows how her hymns, which owe a debt to the Holiness Movement and its stress on the `rest of faith', and were mostly written for Indian children, are an early example of Indian inculturation.