Hostname: page-component-f7d5f74f5-z2nk8 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-10-04T23:30:02.566Z Has data issue: false Feature Flags: { "corePageComponentGetUserInfoFromSharedSession": true, "coreDisableEcommerce": false, "coreDisableSocialShare": false, "coreDisableEcommerceForArticlePurchase": false, "coreDisableEcommerceForBookPurchase": false, "coreDisableEcommerceForElementPurchase": false, "coreUseNewShare": true, "useRatesEcommerce": true } hasContentIssue false

Abiding memories: the community singing movement and English social life in the 1920s

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 December 2007

Institute of Northern Studies, Leeds Metropolitan University, Civic Quarter, Leeds LS1 3HE, UK E-mail:


The community singing movement was a distinctive feature of English popular musical life in the mid-1920s. Although initiated by individuals who saw it as essentially educational, it was rapidly appropriated by sections of the press, and especially the Daily Express, as an instrument in the circulation wars of the period. It was typified by a restricted range of music comprising ‘national’ songs, hymns (with the performance of ‘Abide with Me’ at the FA Cup Final singing particularly important), and songs of the First World War. This mixture and the concomitant neglect of modern popular song reflects the rather nostalgic thrust behind activities, with calls for community singing to recreate a ‘Merrie England’ that would heal the deep social divisions of the 1920s. Whether the singers were fully aware of these various musical and socio-political agendas is unclear, but community singing undoubtedly enjoyed a period of considerable popularity, with the music appreciated for allowing displays of individual and collective emotion.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2008

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)