The aim of this article is to introduce and examine new hymns written for children.
The article is based on the essay »Du är här i allting. Gud i allt du är». Analys av nutida barnpsalmer (»You are here in everything. God, you exist in all». Analysis of hymns for children today), which was published in 2003. The hymns chosen for analysis are taken from the most recent children’s hymnhooks: Kyrksång (Church Songs), Verbum Publishers, and Nya Barnpsalmboken (The New Children’s Hymnal), Libris Publishers. The texts were written between 1992 and 2001. The hymns are elucidated in a textual analysis, in which on the one hand their images of God, and on the other their messages are analysed. Six of the authors represented in both of the hymnals have been interviewed. These interviews have chiefly focussed on the authors’ methods of writing and what they wanted to communicate in their hymns. The results of the textual analysis and the interviews are then discussed in relation to recent research about hymns.
The analysis of the texts shows that God is primarily described with characteristics such as »protective», »providing security», »being lovingly present». Several hymns give an anthropomorphic picture of God. Two messages are evident in the hymns: a sense of security and love, and God’s continuous presence. The textual analysis also shows that the language is inclusive, i.e. »God» and the pronoun »you» are used to refer to the divine, rather than gender-specific terms.
In the interviews it has also become clear that several of the authors want to describe God as a presence in everything. They wish to communicate a sense of security and that »God loves you as you are». All of the text-writers maintain that they build on their own faith in their creative work, but some of them emphasise the importance of learning to understand children’s world.
To describe God as giving a sense of security, as loving and as ever present is neither new nor unique to children’s hymns. It seems rather to be a general tendency to ascribe such characteristics to God, as even the new hymns in The Swedish Hymnal 1986 emphasise this aspect of the divine.
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