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Litanic Verse II

Britannia, Germania et Scandinavia


Edited By Witold Sadowski, Magdalena Kowalska and Magdalena Maria Kubas

The book contains comparative analyses of the development of litanic verse in European poetry, from medieval to modern times. Litanic verse is based on different syntactic devices, such as enumeration, parallelism, anaphora and epiphora. However, it is not to be seen merely as a convention of versification as the popularity of different variants of the verse in Europe reflects the religious, intellectual, social and political history of various European regions. The essays in the second volume focus on litanic verse in the Germanic languages. They discuss predominantly the literatures of Protestant countries (Great Britain, Denmark, Germany, Norway), but also Austrian poetry.

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“Hail! the Heaven-born Prince of Peace!”: The Eighteenth Century and Romanticism in England


It had long been thought that the eighteenth century was a time of decline in religious belief and of secularization. At present such an approach is deemed to be Franco-centric in that it is very much influenced by the political tendencies in late eighteenth-century France and not by the actual situation in England at the time.1 Quite the reverse, since eighteenth-century England saw the emergence of new Protestant denominations and metamorphoses within Anglicanism. As Jeremy Tambling writes, eighteenth-century hymns were written mainly within Methodism and Evangelicalism, except for Kit Smart’s poems representing the genre, which are Biblical.2 Litanic verse could appear in literature created during the period despite discrimination against Catholics, as they seem not to have been the only ones familiar with the literary form. It is important to note that the form did not disappear from the Church of England with the Reformation, since the Book of Common Prayer included it. Images of and prayers to Roman Catholic saints continued in the seventeenth century, only to disappear in the eighteenth for good. Then reform within Protestantism became visible in the Anglican church, while Pietism meant changes in Lutheranism, since it entailed “emphasis on ‘rebirth’ (the divine creation of a new person in the old sinner)” and “the idea of setting up local societies of the reborn within the wider Church.”3 The “rebirth” could be demonstrated by poetic meditations on religious issues.4 Another aspect which was important in the case of litanic verse was the beginning...

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