Sounding ChildhoodMain Menu30 Selections from the Top Ranking Hymns for ChildrenAlphabetical Index of Hymn TitlesScoresRecordingsTimelineCreditsCredits, Permissions and CopyrightWorks CitedRehearsal VideosPart 2--Victorian Secular SongsAlisa Clapp-ItnyreAlisa Clapp-Itnyre ea81b58f96dc50ac6f0312cb8dfd4bbc7d5bfddcSOUNDING VICTORIAN Project 2016
Voice of the Helpless (Band of Mercy)
12017-06-23T17:39:44+00:00Donal Hegartyd91ac6951fc09687a65f62d6a62eb9d3c37c260311Score from: Eddy, Sarah J. Songs of Happy Life for Schools, Homes, and Bands of Mercy. Providence, R.I.: Art and Nature Study Publ., 1897. Google Scholar. Web. 20 July 2012.plain2017-06-23T17:39:44+00:00Donal Hegartyd91ac6951fc09687a65f62d6a62eb9d3c37c2603
“Voice of the Helpless,” written by Carlotta Perry with music by L. B. Marshall, was published in Sarah Eddy’s Songs of Happy Life for Schools, Homes, and Bands of Mercy (1897), popular both in England and America as part of the Bands of Mercy movement. This movement, started in 1875 by Catherine Smithies, brought the century’s growing focus on animal welfare to children’s attention. Bands of Mercy formed in towns and cities, met in evenings or even in schools, and used songs, hymns, skits, and recitations to bring compassionate living to children’s awareness. This song discusses the growing, and lucrative, market for bird feathers on women’s fashions. In the song, a young girl hears the cry of orphan nestlings who have been left by their mother, killed by a hunter. The line “Oh! Lovely, unthinking maiden, The wing that adorns your hat” (v. 3) brings culpability to the young girl. Anthropomorphizing the situation, the hymn, in verse 4, asks mothers to “think of that other, that tender mother, Brooding upon her nest” when young nestlings are killed. The music, of the Victorian ballad tradition, adds to the poignancy of this song.
More discussion on this song can be found in Chapter 5, British Hymn Books for Children.