Chapter 11 Patriotism, Discipline and Joy in Early Nordic School Songbooks

In: Exploring Textbooks and Cultural Change in Nordic Education 1536–2020

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Abstract

This chapter discusses how school singing can have contributed in the nation-building processes in Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway in the early 20th century. Based on an investigation of the repertoire in one central school songbook from each country, we argue that song was a central element in promoting a sense of national community, patriotism and feelings of national identity and pride at this time. The songbooks contain a large number of songs that aim to strengthen the singers’ appreciation of the country’s history and heritage and their love for its beautiful landscapes. God is often presented as the protector of the nation, but human patriotic qualities such as courage and sacrifice are also highly valued in the lyrics. While some songs call for discipline and a fighting spirit, other songs use a more peaceful and joyful approach.

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