This second instalment of the History of the Christadelphian Hymn Book surveys almost six decades from 1874 to 1932 during which time three hymn books were published.

1874 Christadelphian Hymn Book, with  music and tonic sol-fa

A new hymn book became necessary a short time later when all 2000 printed copies of the 1869  Book were sold. Brother Roberts chose to publish  an edition with music. In March 1874, only some four and a half years since the publication of the 1869 Christadelphian Hymn Book, the 1874  Christadelphian Hymn Book with music in both  notations became available to the brotherhood.  Brother A Andrew of London and Sister Mary Turney, a school teacher and capable organist from Birmingham, gave their valuable assistance to Brother Roberts as music editors. This 1874 book  contained 180 hymns and 44 anthems (ie 224, plus  another 10 anthems without music, used by some  ecclesias). Brother Roberts saw that the publishing of music with the words of the hymns would  “place all on a common level, and the advantages of harmonious song would be more generally  diffused”. Add to this the doubtless increase in the skill of all and the benefits to visiting brethren of hearing a hymn sung to the same tune everywhere,  saving many from the “spiritual discomfort” of  having to sing “familiar and edifying words to  unaccustomed strains”. The 1874 Hymn Book  contained music in the old notation as well as tonic sol-fa notation to benefit as many as possible. (The  tonic sol-fa was a system used in England to teach singing, where the tones in a scale are successively named doh, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, doh. This is useful for any key, but is of no use to musicians—see  example.) The book is rather quaint in its numbering due, Brother Roberts tells us, to the “exigencies of  the printer”. We see No 134, then 134a, a blank  page following No 135. No 151 is also numbered 152, then comes 158 as well as Nos 158a and 158b!  There was still awkward phrasing in the Psalms  section which was eventually altered in 1932.

A later Australian edition of this 1874 book  (without the tonic sol-fa) was issued in Sydney by  the Australian Central Standing Committee (CSC) in September  Volume9.41933 following  wide – spread  non-use of the  newly-published 1932  Hymn  Book due to  fellowship issues between English  and Australian  ecclesias. This  A u s t r a l i a n  edition contained an extra 14  hymns ( 194  hymns and 44 anthems—238) and was used by many ecclesias until  the 1950s. (This Book was used at Rathmines Bible  School from September 1965 until December 2002, when the 2002 Hymn Book was adopted.) Fifty-six hymns and 18 anthems were dropped from the 1869  book, while 27 hymns and 12 anthems were added, with brethren David Brown’s and Thomas Bosher’s hymns added to the book. Of the hymns which first appeared in 1874/1933, 24 are in the 2002 Book.

Another improvement in the 1874 Hymn Book  was to alter the style of type in the hymn to denote  expression: italic letters denoted words which ought to be sung softly, words printed in ordinary type ought to be sung in a moderate tone, small capital letters denoted words to be sung with energy and  spirit and large CAPITAL LETTERS to indicate a louder tone. Following this guide, our present Hymn 65 would be printed thus:

Psalm cxxxiii

1 Behold, how good a thing it is,
And how becoming well,

Together such as brethren are

In unity to dwell.

2 Like precious ointment on the head

That down the beard did flow,

E’en Aaron’s beard, and to the skirts

Did of his garments go.

3 As Hermon’s dew, the dew that doth

On Sion’s hill descend;

For there the blessing god commands

Life that shall never end.

Fourth Hymn Book, Suffolk Street

1903 Christadelphian Hymn Book with music  in staff notation

Over the next few years, divisions took place  within the brotherhood, one group known as the  Fraternal Visitors separating over the issue of the  Inspiration of Scripture. These brethren, meeting at  Suffolk Street ecclesia in Birmingham, formed two  committees, possibly at the suggestion of Brother  Joseph Bland, to prepare a Hymn Book with words  which expressed their understanding of Scripture.  The ‘words committee’ consisted of Brethren  J Bland, CJ Caldicott, JJ Hadley, J Hawkins,  HH Horsman and T Turner and the ‘music  committee’ was CJ Caldicott and W Potter.  The result of their work was published in 1903 as  the Christadelphian Hymn Book with music in  Staff-notation, and consisted of 256 hymns and 55  anthems. It also had a section of 11 complete Psalms  for chanting. Several hymns were by brethren or  sisters, those being:

  • Brother Charles Caldicott—We shall be like him (now 388), plus the music for 419
  • Brother Joseph Bland—In the bud of early spring-time (377), and Lord, when we meet to worship Thee (153)
  • Brother Charles Smith and Brother John Lea— Christ is coming, let creation (273)

Just under 80 new hymns were introduced, some  16 exclusive to this book, with 15 new anthems. Of  hymns first appearing in the 1903 Suffolk Street  book, 60 are in the 2002 book.

Fifth Hymn Book

1932 Christadelphian Hymn Book

The mention of the 1903 Hymn Book may not be  seen to be significant by those who belonged to  ecclesias using the 1932 Hymn Book, for Brother  C C Walker completely disregarded it when he  undertook the production of a new hymn book  in 1932, but we have seen that a fair number of  those hymns (60) are still in use. Brother Roberts’  close friend, Brother Harold Musson Williams, an  accomplished organist, assisted him as music editor.  The 1932 Christadelphian Hymn Book included  several of Brother CC Walker’s own hymns with  classical tunes arranged to accompany—Deck  thyself, my soul, with gladness (now 228), The  evening and morning we see the Lord making  (now 382), and See the lamb upon Mount Zion  (now 303).

  • Brother Islip Collyer produced the Anthem music of The Lord is My Shepherd (now 10);
  • Brother CA Ladson contributed two hymns, We praise thee, Heavenly Father (now 335) and Lift up your heads, ye saints (now 376).

At least one new tune was arranged by Brother  Harold Williams—“Evening” (Hymn 382).

The 1932 book contained 251 hymns and  52 anthems but, adding to the confusion, many  Australian ecclesias continued using the Sydney  Central Standing Committee’s edition of the 1874  book until the 1950s, adding those further 14 hymns  to the 180 hymns and 44 anthems therein. Some  Australian ecclesias which began using the 1932  book in the 1950s published their own Appendix  for use with that 1932 book containing 17 hymns,  all but one taken from the 1933 CSC edition. The  additional hymn sung to the tune of Hymn 260  (Sandon), became known as Hymn 260A—Father  of lights, all blessings flow from Thee (now 229) and  was the work of a Brother Parsons. This Breaking  of Bread hymn has been included in several later  Australian printings of the 1932 book—at the back  on its own—but retaining that 260A number. During  the late 1980s and early 1990s several ecclesias  re-issued an Appendix for use in their ecclesias,  including most if not all of those former 17, with  additions from the 1964 book which were seen to be  beneficial. Of the 54 new hymns and 8 new anthems  in the 1932 Book, a total of 58 are in the 2002 book,  with 10 of those re-introduced after being dropped  for the 1964 book.

There are several little-known features in the  1932 hymn book. Three hymns were first printed  which required later alterations or deletions, with  either the revised words or paper being glued over  a problem verse. Also Hymn 87 was first printed  as Hark, the herald angels sing, but this was not  well received, for later editions showed Hymn 87 as  The sons of God rejoiced at creation to Beethoven’s  magnificent tune Creation’s Hymn. However, copies  do exist with the latter words and tune fixed in the  correct place but with the former hymn still listed  in the index!