Minding the hymn: Catherine Winkworth and the transmission of German hymnody to Australia: Catherine Winkworth and the transmission of German hymnody to Australia

Lorraine Macknight

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

3094 Downloads (Pure)


The hymn is recognised as an important component of Christian worship practice, especially by the various Protestant denominations, but its wider significance has not received the attention it deserves. The hymn is also an active agent of cultural transmission. Positioning the hymn against a broad theological, political and social canvas, away from its more traditional hymnological framework, it is possible to explore some other issues beyond Christian worship involved in the transmission process. The translated hymn helps sharpen the focus on these issues: the impact ofliberal Christian ideas, the role played by diplomacy and imperial expansion in highly charged political environments and by commercial interests responding to burgeoning middle class societies. The mid-nineteenth century translations by Catherine Winkworth (1827-78)were demonstrably a critical pivot in the transmission of German hymns as the process has affected Australia. German hymns and hymn tunes, particularly successful in crossing national boundaries, have been taken up in a wide range of hymnbooks. The hymnbooks discussed, mainly in the English language, but not entirely, have their own socio-religious, even political, contexts. Representing various denominations, theyprovide a lens through which it is possible to follow the different paths German hymns have taken, from Germany to England and Scotland thence to Australia and, more directly, from Germany to Australia. The transmission process has been complex, dependent in part on particular periods of substantial population movement, aided andabetted by denominationalism and by the intrinsic pluralistic nature of the hymn itself: its language, music and the expressions of faith it embodies.The period 1840-1999, with which the thesis is primarily concerned,accommodates the first years of significant German migration to the Australian colonies and the impact of two world wars in the first half of the twentieth century. This allows for the initial transmission of the hymns, their assimilation and consolidation in a multicultural society by the end of that century. In tracing this process, the thesis places faith and cultural identity side by side: it is a blurry line between what we believe and who we are.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Charles Sturt University
  • Haire, James, Principal Supervisor
  • Pickard, Stephen, Principal Supervisor
  • Garrett, Graeme, Co-Supervisor
  • Holmes, Robyn, Co-Supervisor, External person
Award date16 Sept 2014
Place of PublicationAustralia
Publication statusPublished - 2014


Dive into the research topics of 'Minding the hymn: Catherine Winkworth and the transmission of German hymnody to Australia: Catherine Winkworth and the transmission of German hymnody to Australia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this