Susanna Harrison was a religious poet from Ipswich. Her father died when she was sixteen, after which Harrison began work as a domestic servant, remaining in that capacity until August 1772. About that time, she fell ill and soon became an invalid. Despite the lack of a proper education, Harrison taught herself to write and developed considerable skill as a poet. More than 130 of her verses, hymns, and meditations appeared in Songs in the Night (an allusion to Job 35:10) (1780), under the editorial supervision of Dr. John Conder, an Independent minister in London. Additional verses appeared in subsequent editions through 1784, the year of her death. Songs in the Night went through more than 20 editions in both Britain and America, making it “one of the best-selling collections written by a laboring-class poet in the late eighteenth century” (Keenan 480). Some of her works indicated that she had read Milton’s “Ode to the Nativity.” Besides Songs in the Night, Harrison may also have composed “A Call to Britain.”

For more on Harrison, see her entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004); also Bridget Keenan, “Mysticisms and Mystifications: The Demands of Laboring-Class Religious Poetry,” Criticism 47.4 (2005), 471-91; and “Susanna Harrison,” The Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology (Canterbury Press).

Annotated Works

Harrison, Susannah. Songs in the Night: Of the Breathings of a Pious Soul Out of the Furnace of Affliction Written. Ipswich, 1780.

Harrison, Susannah. Songs in the Night: By a Young Woman Under Heavy Afflictions. Ipswich: Printed and sold by Punchard & Jermyn. Sold also by Vallance and Conder, and Buckland, London, 1788.

While some of Harrison’s poems do pray for the power of God to help ease her of the illness and afflictions that she faces on a daily basis, most of Harrison’s work looks beyond her own personal problems. Whether it is admiring the beauty that God has provided His children through nature, or praying that the New Year fairs well for everyone, Harrison praises God and His actions through (most) every line of her work. She also prays in some of her works that other learn of God’s strength and power, how He protects everyone from the devil(s) on a daily basis to provide them with the best life He can, despite any adversities. Harrison presents her unwavering faith through her work, going so far as to remain nameless through the first edition. Harrison remained nameless so as to highlight the word of God that appears in her poetry. However, in the second edition, Harrison did finally name herself as the author of these works. The 1781 edition of Songs in the Night holds an acrostic poem (which appears near the beginning of the provided edition) that begins with the line “Shall I presume to tell the World my Name?” and in this poem, the first letter of each line spells out ‘Susanna Harrison.” Though Harrison lived a very short life that was riddled with illness, her work highlights the idea that God does not only use the noble and intellectual to deliver His message, but that He works through the weak things of the world as well.


  • "Susanna Harrison." The Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology. Canterbury Press. Web. 1 Mar. 2016.<>.

  • "Susannah Harrison." Wikipedia. N.p., 5 June, 2015. Web. 1 Mar. 2016.

  • Ellinwood, Leonard. “Susannah Harrison.” Hymnary. Web. 1 Mar. 2016.

  • Keenan, Bridget. “Mysticims and Mystifications: The Demands of Laboring-Class Religious Poetry.” Criticism. Vol. 47, No. 4. (Fall 2005). Pp.471-91. Electronic.

  • Stephen, Leslie and Sidney Lee. Dictionary of National Biography Vol. XXV. New York: MacMillan and Co., 1891. Electronic.

This page assisted by Kelsi Cunningham, Georgia Southern University