Attending church or chapel was the regular practice of most Chartists. The recently discovered National Chartist Hymn Book in Calderdale, Lancashire is evidence that Chartist sympathisers would sing the popular hymn tunes of the day adapted with lyrics which expressed Chartist sentiment.
These are passionate, rousing and thoughtful songs echoing the sentiments of the Chartist Movement and the words bring to life the poverty and injustices experienced by the Chartists. The hymn tune used here as an example of Chartist practice may have been written later than the time of the Chartists.
Henry Vincent, the charismatic Chartist leader and orator was a firm favourite of the Newport and South Wales Chartists, and was a regular preacher at the Chartist Christian church in Birmingham. It is most likely that the National Chartist Hymnbook was used in services there.
Chartists in Hamilton Scotland set up an independent Chartist Church in 1839, boasting regular attendances of 80 to 100 worshippers. Other areas followed and in 1839 James Moir warned that if the churches did not adapt to Chartism, then Chartism may found its own religious denomination.
However, Chartism evoked little sympathy within the establishment of the Church of England, and sermons were preached against the Chartism. At St. Paul’s church in Newport the anti-Chartist sermons were resisted by silent sit-ins by the Chartists.
In some areas, the Chartists provoked the outright hostility both of the Roman Catholic church and the Methodists. However, the Chartists attracted considerable support among other non-conformist clergy, many of whom lived lives little different to those of the working-class men and women to whom they ministered (the Chartists).