Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Charles Wesley: hymns for labouring women and everyday suffering

It seems there was more to Charles Wesley's hymns than most of us realise. Hymns for women in labour, for smallpox sufferers, and those facing execution were amongst his collection of more than 6 000 hymns.

The reasons why these hymns of suffering dropped off the church's repertoire is the subject of a new book by Deakin University academic Dr. Joanna Cruickshank. Pain, Passion and Faith: Revisiting the place of Charles Wesley in Early Methodism.

In an era of no pain relief, such hymns may have helped to ease physical suffering in a world where women frequently died in childbirth, and fatal diseases meant a significantly shorter life expectancy than those living in the United Kingdom enjoy today.

Understanding the healing potential of music is not a new subject. Despite numerous scientific studies on the link between music and health, it remains an under-utilised practice.

Dr Cruickshank talks on radio national

More about Dr Cruickshank's book

For more on music and health, contact Australian Music Therapy Association

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