This page was created by Donal Hegarty. 

Sounding Childhood

Here we suffer grief and pain

Here we suffer grief and pain” was extremely popular for children, as evidenced by Gaskell’s inclusion of it in her short story “Libbie Marsh’s Three Eras” (1847) and the dying child Franky who sings it on his deathbed:

                “Here we suffer grief and pain,
                Here we meet to part again;
                        In Heaven we part no more.
                                Oh! That will be joyful”

….[T]he young child’s craving for some definite idea of the land to which his inner wisdom told him he was hastening, had nothing in it wrong, or even sorrowful for

                “In Heaven we part no more.”

The lyrics were written by Thomas Bilby and published in 1832 in his Infant School Teachers’ Assistant publication.  They simply and repetitively underscore the griefs of this world in contrast to the joys of the next and who will go to heaven: “All who love the Lord below/ When they die to heaven will go” (verse 2) with special emphasis on children in verse 3: “Little children will be there/ Who have sought the Lord with prayer/ From every Sabbath School.”  After naming adults and children, the hymn switches to third-person plural as the joys are belabored: “O! how happy we shall be!” (verse 4) and “There we all shall sing with joy” (verse 5).  Spritely and simple, the hymn appeals to children especially through its music.  Often in E major, its 6/8 time gives it a lilt that is infectious.  The chorus’ downbeats emphasize every “joyful” in the lines “O, that will be joyful!” As John Julian wrote in 1907, “Although suited in sentiment more to the aged than the young, yet mainly through the tune to which it is set and the refrain, it has become a very popular hymn with children, and is in extensive use in Sunday-schools” (A Dictionary of Hymnology 513).

More discussion of this hymn can be found in Chapter 6, British Hymn Books for Children.

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