Sounding ChildhoodMain Menu30 Selections from the Top Ranking Hymns for ChildrenAlphabetical Index of Hymn TitlesScoresRecordingsTimelineCredits, 2015 Recording & WebsiteCredits, Permissions and CopyrightWorks CitedRehearsal VideosPart 2--Songs for School and PlayPart 3--Bands of Mercy SongsAlisa Clapp-ItnyreAlisa Clapp-Itnyre ea81b58f96dc50ac6f0312cb8dfd4bbc7d5bfddcSOUNDING VICTORIAN Project 2016
Chimney Sweeper's Song
12018-05-23T18:08:17+00:00Alisa Clapp-Itnyre ea81b58f96dc50ac6f0312cb8dfd4bbc7d5bfddc17plain2018-05-23T19:30:22+00:00Alisa Clapp-Itnyre ea81b58f96dc50ac6f0312cb8dfd4bbc7d5bfddc"The Chimney Sweeper's Song" was written by William Blake, published in his Songs of Innocence (1789), and later set to thismusic in The Illustrated Book of Songs for Children (1863). Blake describes a very real and sad existence for some of the poorer children of the late 18th and 19th centuries who, due to small bodies and lack of family funds, would be sold into low-paying jobs of cleaning chimneys. The narrator of this song talks about "little Tom Teddy" and the "thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, and Jack" who, released from their earthly coffins, have heaven to look forward to. Indeed, children would die in chimneys, catching fire or suffocating. Though most were boys, girls worked as sweeps as well, which is why our girls look sad (below); a poor family would send any of its children into jobs if needed. Such children had no time for school, would grow up misshapen and often with lung or other cancers. It was a horrific existence, and one which socially conscious people would try to halt. After decades of dispute in the Houses of Parliament, the Earl of Shaftesbury was finally able to put an end to the use of children as chimney sweeps in his 1875 Shaftesbury's Act.
For more, see Eileen Wallace, Children of the Labouring Poor: The Working Lives of Children in Nineteenth-Century Hertfordshire. Hatfield, Hertfordshire: U of Hertfordshire P, 2010.
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1media/2017 arch smiling color.JPG2017-06-23T23:12:30+00:00Donal Hegartyd91ac6951fc09687a65f62d6a62eb9d3c37c2603Part 2--Songs for School and PlayAlisa Clapp-Itnyre 37image_header4802021-02-01T03:47:23+00:00Alisa Clapp-Itnyre ea81b58f96dc50ac6f0312cb8dfd4bbc7d5bfddc