Hardback
August 1, 2018
9781421425924
English
272
83279
15
8.50 Inches (US)
5.50 Inches (US)
0.91 Inches (US)
.95 Pounds (US)
$39.95 USD, £29.50 GBP
v2.1 Reference
Electronic book text
August 1, 2018
9781421425931
9781421425924
English
272
83279
15
8.50 Inches (US)
5.50 Inches (US)
$39.95 USD, £29.50 GBP
v2.1 Reference

The Hymnal

A Reading History

Understanding the culture of living with hymnbooks offers new insight into the histories of poetry, literacy, and religious devotion.

It stands barely three inches high, a small brick of a book. The pages are skewed a bit, and evidence of a small handprint remains on the worn, cheap leather covers that don’t quite close. The book bears the marks of considerable use. But why—and for whom—was it made?

Christopher N. Phillips’s The Hymnal is the first study to reconstruct the practices of reading and using hymnals, which were virtually everywhere in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Isaac Watts invented a small, words-only hymnal at the dawn of the eighteenth century. For the next two hundred years, such hymnals were their owners’ constant companions at home, school, church, and in between. They were children's first books, slaves’ treasured heirlooms, and sources of devotional reading for much of the English-speaking world. Hymnals helped many people learn to memorize poetry and to read; they provided space to record family memories, pass notes in church, and carry everything from railroad tickets to holy cards to business letters. In communities as diverse as African Methodists, Reform Jews, Presbyterians, Methodists, Roman Catholics, and Unitarians, hymnals were integral to religious and literate life.

An extended historical treatment of the hymn as a read text and media form, rather than a source used solely for singing, this book traces the lives people lived with hymnals, from obscure schoolchildren to Emily Dickinson. Readers will discover a wealth of connections between reading, education, poetry, and religion in Phillips’s lively accounts of hymnals and their readers.

About the Author

Christopher N. Phillips is an associate professor of English at Lafayette College. He is the author of Epic in American Culture: Settlement to Reconstruction and the editor of The Cambridge Companion to the Literature of the American Renaissance.

Reviews

"Unlike modern hymnals, which are larger and heavier and more expensively produced, older hymnbooks were affordable and designed to be read. People dog-eared them, wrote notes in them, learned to read with them and gave them as gifts to children and relatives. These homely little volumes, Mr. Phillips rightly contends, filled an important and mostly overlooked role in forging America's Anglo-Protestant worldview and shaping America's literary sensibilities."

- Barton Swaim - Wall Street Journal

"... continual thought-provoking insights transcending national boundaries."

- Timothy Dudley-Smith - The Hymn Society Bulletin

Endorsements

"A well-researched, clearly written book on a relatively neglected subject. Enlightening and useful."

- Alan Jacobs, Baylor University, author of The Book of Common Prayer: A Biography
Johns Hopkins University Press
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9781421425924 : the-hymnal-phillips
Hardback
272 Pages
$39.95 USD
9781421425931 : the-hymnal-phillips
Electronic book text
272 Pages
$39.95 USD

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Epic in American Culture

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