The Hymns Of Prose For Children By Anna Laetitia Barbauld Essay

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In her ‘Preface’ to Hymns in Prose for Children, Anna Laetitia Barbauld affirms that:
That Barbauld is a believing woman is incontrovertible: she seeks, after all, to ‘impress devotional feelings’ upon the minds of her young readers. It is also evident, however, that Barbauld is not especially interested in communicating scriptural minutiae and theological specificities to her readers: the Hymns, as Lynne Vallone notes, mostly ‘“preach” analogically to the children of privilege’ – children for whom ‘the pastoral world of the Hymns’, where praising God ‘is the only imperative’, is a recognisable world – ‘to love God: as [they] respect and are awed by the beauty of nature so should [they] be thankful to and praise the God who is the Creator of Nature’. Barbauld intimates, in fact, that the phenomena and processes of the ‘natural’, or physical, world corroborate the existence of a divine presence; in discussing the natural order of things, and in encouraging the reader to both look out for and make note of ecological patterns and quirks, Barbauld seems to insinuate, in turn, that religion cannot be taught in churches and classrooms – that it must, instead, be learned spontaneously through one’s observations of the universe.
It is, of course, possible that Barbauld believed children incapable of grasping orthodox constructions, or interpretations, of God and His designs. In her ‘Preface’ to the Hymns, she mentions, for example, that poetry – ‘an elevation in thought and style

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